A second coronavirus outbreak could emerge this winter in conjunction with the flu season to make for an even more dire health crisis, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The Washington Post in an interview.
“There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a story published Tuesday. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean.”
“We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time,” he added, predicting a dual assault on the health care system.
While there are shots to help prevent the flu and drugs to help treat it — unlike with the novel coronavirus, which still has no approved treatment or vaccine — it remains a deadly infection.
The flu season has been underway since September, and while flu activity now is considered low, the season has seen a high number of hospitalizations and infections, killing at least 168 children, according to the CDC. Last year, the flu killed at least 34,200 Americans, according to the CDC, and made an estimated 35.5 million people sick.
To have both the flu and the coronavirus circulating at the same time could overwhelm hospitals and doctors’ offices that are already stretched thin in a bad flu season.