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

flu vaccine
Credit: AP

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.

Related article:  In your genes? DNA holds clues about how you will fare when exposed to coronavirus

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