Where has all the influenza gone? The impact of COVID-19 on the circulation of influenza and other respiratory viruses, Australia, March to September 2020
Sheena G Sullivan, Sandra Carlson, Allen C Cheng, Monique BN Chilver, Dominic E Dwyer, Melissa Irwin, Jen Kok, Kristine Macartney, Jennifer MacLachlan, Cara Minney-Smith, David Smith, Nigel Stocks, Janette Taylor, Ian G Barr
The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on 11 March 2020, as southern hemisphere countries prepared for their usual winter respiratory pathogen epidemics. The announcement prompted concern that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), influenza and other respiratory viruses might co-circulate, straining and possibly overwhelming healthcare systems. In Australia, these fears were not realised and—in contrast to expectations—influenza activity was at an all-time low during the southern hemisphere’s 2020 winter. Here, we describe the decreased activity of influenza and other respiratory pathogens in Australia and the measures that have likely contributed to their decline.