The rampant spread of illnesses like the flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in America could continue to wreak havoc on hospitals for months, US officials warn.
There has been an explosion of viruses that were suppressed during the Covid pandemic in recent months which optimistic scientists hope has already peaked.
But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working under the assumption that infection rates will continue to stay extremely high and cause disruptions to healthcare throughout the winter.
A CDC spokesperson told Fox 5 DC: ‘We anticipate that high levels of respiratory virus activity may continue for several more weeks, or possibly even months.’
With Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) often being confused with one another because of their similar symptoms, Burlington, North Carolina-based Labcorp has launched an at-home PCR test that can detect all three viruses.
The Pixel, developed by Labcorp , can detect all of RSV, the flu and Covid in one test. It is a PCR test that must be sent back to the company’s lab for results
Flu cases dropped 30 percent week-over-week, from 43,960 last week to 31,287 this week. It is another signal America’s ‘tripledemic’ is past its peak
RSV cases continued to decline in the latest CDC update. The nation recorded 4,391 new infections during the week ending on December 10, the lowest total since late September
The warning comes despite signs in the CDC’s data that the flu and RSV outbreaks have already peaked.
There are fears that so many Americans are vulnerable to the virus after their immune systems were depleted by two years of Covid lockdowns and mask orders that they will always find more people to infect.
But there are positive signs in the data.
During the week ending on December 10, 31,287 confirmed flu case were recorded across the US. This is a 30 percent drop from the 43,960 the previous week, and the first time this flu season week-over-week cases went down.
At the start of the month, CDC officials announced that there had been 9million confirmed flu cases, 7,800 hospitalizations and 4,500 deaths.
This has lead to officials declaring America’s 2022 flu season the worst since the 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic for this time of the year.
The flu was not the only annual virus that ramped up again, only to now be on the decline after a late-fall peak.
The CDC recorded 4,391 new RSV cases during the week ending on December 10, a 63 percent fall from the previous week.
It is the first week with less than 10,000 confirmed cases since the week ending on October 15, and the lowest point since late-September.
CVS and Walgreens RATION children’s medication due to ‘tripledemic’ of viruses
Purchases of children’s pain meds will be limited at two of the largest US pharmacy chains this winter as demand surges amid the ‘tripledemic’.
CVS will limit in-store and online purchases of Tylenol, Advil and Motrin to two products per person, while Walgreens will only allow six products to be purchased at a time online.
The drugs have been in low supply across America for much of flu season, as supply-chain issues combine with surging cases of flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and Covid.
Other drugs used to fight viral and bacterial illnesses that have surged this flu season have faced reported shortages, like the child antibiotic amoxicillin.
Rates of hospitalizations from the combination of viruses have been so high that hospital bed occupancy in the US reached a higher point this month than at any time in the Covid pandemic. Some pediatric units have had to erect tents in parking lots because they have been overwhelmed with patients.
The virus does not pose much danger to healthy adults, but can cause severe illness or even death in young children and the elderly.
Dr Ashish Jha, the White House Covid Response Coordinator, said during a briefing last week that RSV is ‘no doubt’ starting to decline.
His sentiments echoed that of Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, who said that RSV was starting to burn out during a briefing on December 3.
As the pair of annual viruses falter, Covid has started to rise. America is recording 67,368 average daily Covid infections, a 24 percent increase over the past two weeks.
Over the last two weeks, daily deaths have also jumped 41 percent to 407 each day.
The Covid situation is much better this year than last year, though, as the US was averaging 168,000 daily infections this time last year.
All three viruses are still lingering in the population though, even if some have already peaked – and at-home tests are starting to become available to test for all of them at once.
Called The Pixel, Labcorp’s FDA authorized test can be purchased online to test for all of the flu, RSV and Covid.
It is a PCR test, similar to some at-home Covid tests many Americans are already familiar with.
It costs nothing up-front, and health insurance will cover the costs for a majority of Americans.
For the uninsured, though, it will cost $169 per test kit.
A person must send their kit back to Labcorp for their sample to be examined in a lab. It takes up to two days to receive a result after the kit makes it to the lab.
‘Testing for all three viruses at once enables individuals and physicians to quickly identify the illness and determine the appropriate treatment,’ Dr. Brian Caveney, chief medical officer at Labcorp, said.