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Flu and colds are back with a vengeance — why now?

  Restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 markedly   blunted the spread of other respiratory illnesses . Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) — a seasonal virus that usually causes mild cold-like symptoms, but that can be dangerous for young children and older adults — all but disappeared in 2020 and early 2021. Now, in the Northern Hemisphere, RSV is surging, and the hospitalization rate for flu in the United States is higher for this time of year than it has been since 2010. Why exactly are these surges happening now? And what’s in store for future winters? “These viruses are coming back, and they’re coming back with a vengeance,” says Scott Hensley, an immunologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “It is possible that this year will be sort of the granddaddy of them all in terms of flu.” Hensley says that this is because the population “is more immunologically naive than what we would expect in most years”. Normally, children get infected by their se

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