Diversity in flu virus strains and lineages have reduced during coronavirus pandemic, with some experts speculating the potential extinction of certain virulent strains, news reports revealed.
According to health news media STAT, over the years, flu continuously evolves to weaken and evade immune defenses developed by humans to fend them off and in the years leading up to the pandemic, one of the Influenza A subtypes began to evolve in a strange way.
COVID-19 preventive measures have pushed people to adhere to social distancing and mask wearing, with a direct result being flu infections shrinking to historic lows.
Flu viruses consist of different strains, with new ones born continually. Several are difficult to treat and keeping pace with medicines that kill them is a continuous process.
As these strains mutate and distance from each other genetically, pharmaceutical companies are occasionally blind-sided in a treatment’s efficacy. One incident was seen over the winter period at the end of 2017 moving into 2018 when the particular flu jab developed to tackle the H3N2 strain failed to protect three quarters of the people who took it in the US.
There has been recent speculation about how the H3N2 and B/Yamagata clades could be extinct due to the COVID-19 pandemic. STAT reported that no cases were recorded of either of these two virus strains throughout the pandemic. Experts do not yet know whether the strains are extinct or not but have said that if they were, it would make the process of creating the flu shot a lot easier.