Masking, Social Distancing During COVID-19 Pandemic Stopped Flu, RSV Spread During 2020 Cold and Flu Season

The study aimed to examine the impact of masking and social distancing practices used to control the spread of COVID-19.

New research shows that COVID-19 masking requirements also inhibited influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections during last year’s flu season, according to a study abstract from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study aimed to examine the impact of masking and social distancing practices used to control the spread of COVID-19. Researchers in Ohio found these measures reduced the spread of the flu by 99% as well as no cases of RSV in the Northern Ohio research region.

“Numbers don’t lie. Face masking, and proper hygiene and isolation can be effective means to protect the vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and young children during the respiratory virus season,” said abstract author Osama El-Assal, MD, PhD, in a press release. “It can be a simple non-medicinal way to save lives.”

The research was conducted at Akron Children’s in Ohio during the peak respiratory season from October 2020 through April 2021. The study showed that mandatory social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak created a unique opportunity to study the effects of these provisions on the spread of influenza and RSV during their predicted peak seasons.

The study period showed no cases of influenza A and RSV and only 2 cases of influenza B. Further, after March 14, 2021, social distancing requirements were lowered in Ohio, and viral infections were seen again. The authors concluded that social distancing and mask mandates are effective to help reduce the rates of potentially serious infections, such as influenza and RSV in children.

REFERENCE

Masking and social distancing during pandemic stopped spread of flu and RSV during 2020 cold and flu season. American Academy of Pediatrics. October 7, 2021. Accessed October 8, 2021. https://www.aap.org/en/news-room/news-releases/aap/2021/masking-and-social-distancing-during-pandemic-stopped-spread-of-flu-and-rsv-during-2020-cold-and-flu-season/