A Future With Masks?

There has been one positive piece of news during the otherwise tragic COVID-19 pandemic, and that is this: The number of deaths and severe illness caused by the ordinary flu is down dramatically from a typical flu season.

Epidemiologists credit this downturn to a number of factors: International travel is virtually non-existent, people are not gathering in large groups, people are working from home (and therefore not going into their offices while sick), more people got their flu shots than ever, and most of us are wearing masks.

Although the reduction in the number of deaths from the regular flu by no means offsets the increase in the deaths from COVID-19 — COVID is estimated to be 5-10 times deadlier than the seasonal flu — the substantial reduction in deaths from the ordinary flu gives us some hope that the lessons we have learned during this year of COVID-19 may enlighten us as to how to combat less-deadly viruses in the future.

In addition, there is no doubt that the incredible effort by the scientific community to develop an effective vaccine against COVID-19 in such a short time will pay fruits in terms of our understanding of other illnesses and our ability to fight them.

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