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Viewpoint: China’s coronavirus is getting all the attention, but this year’s flu season is more frightening

| | February 3, 2020
flu vaccine
Image: AP
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

What we appear to be having this year is a flu-the-trickster season. And while that new coronavirus is getting a lot of attention, here in the United States at least, the plain old flu viruses currently circulating in schools, subways, and public spaces are probably a much bigger threat.

The influenza that produces miserable winters for many of us typically has two flavors, influenza A and influenza B. The A strains are usually the first to get here. The B strains come much later.

But the reason it’s shaping up to be a bad flu season is that, for some reason, influenza B flipped the script: It arrived way early—surprise!—and is now making a mess of the place. It’s a dangerous head-scratcher. Usually flu season is still just simmering in December. Instead, led by the surge of influenza B infections, which can be particularly rough for kids, it was raging full boil as the holidays arrived. Flu already has killed 54 children, more than twice the number of flu-related pediatric deaths reported at this point last year. Fifteen of those deaths were reported in just the last week, at a time when all eyes were on the coronavirus.

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