Remember less than five years ago when seasonal influenza killed over 60,000 people. Two years ago, just before our current pandemic, over 400,000 were hospitalized due to the flu. What happened in the 2020-21 seasonal influenza season? Only 646 people died. Why?
I wondered about that a lot myself. We were warned about the Twindemic last Fall. Yet, it never arrived. Were some coronavirus cases misdiagnosed as seasonal influenza? No, only 1,500 people tested positive for the flu virus.
I had a virus test recently to determine if I had COVID-19 (yes, I did), and my one test covered 26 different viruses. Today, I heard the term – viral interference. I have never heard it before, but it makes a lot of sense. So, I did a little research and thought there was enough to share with my readers.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/778995/#:~:text=Viral%20interference%20is%20a%20phenomenon,infection%20by%20a%20superinfectant%20virus. Viral interference, also known as superinfection resistance, is when a virus currently occupying your body prevents other viruses (or bacteria) from infecting your body at the same time. Scientists speculate that interferons may be responsible.
Interferons are signaling molecules released by a host (your body) in response to invading viruses. For example, one virus has established a home, and it does not want any foreign invaders stopping by to compete for fertile ground. Interferons can signal nearby cells to raise their anti-viral network to keep other viruses at bay.
History of Viral Interference
https://www.statnews.com/2021/01/31/a-viral-mystery-can-one-infection-prevent-another/. Scientists have seen this happen for years. Edward Jenner was an English doctor noted for developing the inoculation process for smallpox in the early 1800s. A person with herpes would not accept the cowpox attenuated virus developed for smallpox. He surmised that two different active viruses could not live in the same host. https://www.clinicalmicrobiologyandinfection.com/article/S1198-743X(14)63294-8/fulltext
Recently, the H1N1 (swine flu) viral epidemic hit Europe in 2009; several countries saw significant increases in upper respiratory infections. The United Kingdom, Portugal, and Spain were overcome immediately with the swine flu. However, Spain was temporarily off-limits to the virus.
There were a few cases of swine flu in France, but not what was expected. Weeks after the swine flu infected other countries, France began to see spikes in upper respiratory infections from swine flu. https://www.clinicalmicrobiologyandinfection.com/article/S1198-743X(14)63294-8/fulltext. France was enveloped in another viral infection when the swine flu started making a round of the various countries in Europe. Once the local French infection subsided, the swine flu had no interference from the local cold virus and moved in and took over host duty.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33103132/. Scientists experimented with both the swine flu virus and rhinovirus (common cold variant). Human tissue was infected with the rhinovirus and allowed to grow under laboratory conditions. Three days later, the swine flu virus was introduced. The host tissue rejected the swine flu and did not let it grow.
The thought was that the rhinovirus activated interferons that set off alarm bells around the rhinovirus territory and prevented any incursion of foreign invaders. The scientists then deactivated the interferon process and repeated the experiment. Without interferon activation, the swine flu was not rejected and grew alongside the rhinovirus.
Many viruses activate interferon signaling in the human body. Would swine flu activate interferons and stop an invading rhinovirus? We will never know. That experiment was not performed. We see separate and distinct cold and flu seasons. It is quite possible that the interferon process keeps colds like colds and flu as flu and will not let them mix. But, again, we do not know fully.
Did the SARS-CoV2 virus activate interferons to keep seasonal influenza out of the picture last winter? My money says this is possible and most likely. I have seen no other worthy reason.
However, I do not believe that wearing face masks stopped the seasonal influenza virus and only chose to let COVID-19 viral particles into the hosts wearing the masks. Yes, I will agree that face masks can contain aerosolized particles. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-72798-7. However, viral particles can easily enter between the strands of typical face masks used daily in America.
I heard a talk from a particle physicist a while back. He equated the standard face mask stopping a viral particle (not aerosolized) akin to a barb-wire fence stopping a mosquito.
Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin – RedOLaughlin.com
Thanks for this article Red. Viral interference makes sense and maybe answers the question about why few got the seasonal flu!