As we move into the spring/summer period where flu is always uncommon in New Zealand, Professor Michael Baker offers his analysis on the flu season numbers and why masks continue to be so important.
He said there has been “near extinction of influenza in New Zealand following our very effective Covid-19 response”, as numbers vanished from the two standard systems for surveillance – resulting in a 99.8 percent reduction in flu cases.
According to Baker, there were usually 1600 more deaths in winter, compared to other seasons, and around a third of those were caused by influenza, mostly in older people with long-term health conditions.
“What the Covid-19 response has done has largely eliminated those excess winter deaths and mortality as a whole is down around 5 percent,” he said. “So that means an extra 1500 people will survive this year who wouldn’t have.”