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Americans to View COVID-19 Like the Common Flu, FDA Says

Darren Maung
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
Published: May 10, 2022
Empty bottles of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine are pictured in a vaccination centre in Garlan, western France, on December 13, 2021. (Photo by Fred TANNEAU / AFP) (Photo by FRED TANNEAU/AFP via Getty Images)

In early May, the Food and Drug Association (FDA) expressed that U.S. citizens must “accept” the COVID-19 virus as if it were the common flu.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the world, the FDA believes that yearly vaccinations will curb or prevent future outbreaks. However, some have voiced their concerns and opposition to the idea, with a noticeable shift in rhetoric from health officials.

Another common virus

Several officials from the FDA, including Commissioner Robert Califf, believe that Americans should embrace the fact that COVID-19 has become widespread “for the foreseeable future” and people must adapt. 

To deal with the virus, the FDA recommends that yearly vaccines are needed to strike at variations of the virus.

“Widespread vaccine – and infection-induced immunity, combined with the availability of effective therapeutics, could blunt the effects of future outbreaks,” the officials said adding that, “Nonetheless, it is time to accept that the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is the new normal.”

The virus “will likely circulate globally for the foreseeable future, taking its place alongside other common respiratory viruses such as influenza. And it likely will require similar annual consideration for vaccine composition updates in consultation with the [FDA],” they said.

According to CNN, FDA officials could decide in June on the “composition of COVID-19 vaccines” for fall and winter. By then, “decisions will need to be made” on choosing “eligible” individuals for additional vaccine shots, as well as said composition of vaccines.

“The time frame to determine the composition of the COVID-19 vaccine for the 2022-2023 season, to use alongside the seasonal influenza vaccine for administration in the Northern Hemisphere beginning in about October, is compressed because of the time required for manufacturing the necessary doses,” the officials wrote. “A decision on composition will need to be made in the U.S. by June 2022.”


Doubts of acceptance

Despite the call to adapt to COVID-19, some believe comparing it to the flu is inadequate, as the virus is “no ordinary flu.”

Initially, experts called out the FDA’s comparisons between COVID-19 and the flu as “highly politicized”, but with vaccines and treatments said to be curbing the virus, the comparisons are now believed to be more valid.

As data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows, recent outbreaks of the virus have been small compared to the number reported in mid-January, when there were around 80,000 cases per day in the seven-day average. As of May 6, the average was about 68,000 per day.

The CDC proclaimed that both COVID-19 and the flu are not easy to compare on symptoms alone.

However, Dr. Jorge Salinas, assistant professor of infectious disease at Stanford, said that the causes of COVID-19, compared to the flu, are “still not very well understood.” To him, COVID-19 is far more elusive than the flu.

Additionally, experts also warned that COVID-19 is “far more infectious” than the flu, representing a greater risk of infecting more people.

“There’s never been a flu season when you would look around and know so many people that had it,” Bob Wachter, chair of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center (UCSF), said.

There is also the fear of long-term effects, which includes “neurological complications, heart disease and diabetes,” symptoms that experts believe cannot happen frequently due to the flu.

Also, COVID-19 is a recent virus, with its effects “too new and unpredictable” compared to the flu.

With the uncertainty and unpredictability of COVID-19, experts fear that the virus will continue to persist throughout the year.