Influenza, which each year kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, all but vanished in Europe last month as coronavirus lockdowns slowed transmission, according to EU data and scientists. The northern hemisphere’s winter flu outbreak normally runs from October until mid-May and in some seasons has claimed lives on the scale of COVID-19, despite the existence of a vaccine. Influenza killed 152,000 people in Europe in the 2017-18 winter. So far, COVID-19 has taken nearly 100,000 lives across the continent, albeit in a shorter period of time. “The flu season ended earlier than usual this year and this is probably due to the measures taken regarding SARS-CoV-2, such as social distancing and mask wearing,” Holger Rabenau, virologist at the Frankfurt University Hospital, told Reuters, using the scientific name of the new coronavirus.Although that is welcome, the dearth of cases could slow progress towards a vaccine for next season’s flu.

 

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