What does COVID-19 mean for this year’s flu season?

Every winter, hundreds of thousands become infected with seasonal influenza, which kills between 290,000 and 650,000 people worldwide each year. But this year, we have another respiratory illness to contend with: COVID-19. So, what does this mean for this year’s flu season?

  • 29 September 2020
  • 5 min read
  • by Priya Joi
What does COVID-19 mean for this year’s flu season?
What does COVID-19 mean for this year’s flu season?


The flu virus spreads when people breathe in respiratory particles from the sneezes and coughs of someone who is infected, or when they touch surfaces which are contaminated with the virus. The best advice to avoid the flu is to not be in crowded areas with poor ventilation, not go to work places or schools where others are infected, and to wash your hands regularly. This year, the southern hemisphere’s flu season coincided with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had a dramatic impact on cases of influenza. The measures introduced to prevent the spread of COVID-19, with human contact reduced to almost zero, increasing wearing of surgical and cloth masks and the increase in regular hand washing, meant there were virtually no flu cases.

Lockdown wiped out the flu season in the South

Seasonal flu kills about 0.1% of people it infects, but since it spreads easily, it is estimated to kill on average 389,000 a year (about 2% of all annual respiratory deaths). Of these deaths, 67% were among people aged 65 years or older.

South Africa sees around 11,000 flu deaths every year. To keep track of cases, its National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) undertakes rigorous flu surveillance, involving random laboratory screening. Usually, this would identify about 1,000 cases of flu, but by the end of March, the institute recorded only a single case.

A similar pattern has been observed elsewhere. For instance, a study of flu activity during COVID-19 showed that between April and July 2020, only 33 cases were found among 60,031 specimens tested in Australia, 12 in 21,178 specimens in Chile, and six in 2,098 in South Africa – a total of 51 influenza positive specimens out of 83,307 tested (0.06%). By contrast, during the same months in 2017–2019, 24,512 specimens tested positive for influenza among 178,690 across these three countries. That’s 13.7% - so significantly higher than this year.

The best advice to avoid the flu is to not be in crowded areas with poor ventilation, not go to work places or schools where others are infected, and to wash your hands regularly.

How bad will the northern hemisphere’s flu season be?

The COVID-19 lockdown also had a positive effect on the northern hemisphere’s flu season, which was tailing off at the start of the pandemic. In the United States, there was a 98% decrease in flu sample specimens testing positive, from 19.34% in September to February, down to just 0.33% between March and May. 

In many countries with unusually low numbers of flu cases, reduced testing may initially have contributed, But when public health officials and clinicians made renewed efforts to identify adequate numbers of samples to test, they still found little trace of the influenza virus.

So, what does this mean for the northern hemisphere over the coming months? 

The main difference now, say scientists, is that whereas countries were shutting down at the start of the southern flu season, they are now opening up – including re-opening schools, which is a major contributor to the spread of flu. It’s true that life has not totally gone back to the ease of movement of pre-pandemic days. In Spain, for example, measures taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, such as smaller class sizes, frequent hand-washing and requiring children over the age of six years to wear masks all day, could also slow the spread of flu.

But countries are implementing more varied and complex restrictions around COVID-19 than they did back at the start of the pandemic, meaning many people have far more social contact now than they did during lockdown. Even with continued guidance to maintain social distancing, wear masks and wash hands, pandemic fatigue could mean that people are tiring of these measures, or taking them less seriously than when COVID-19 first emerged.

Why the flu vaccine is more important than ever

The prospect of the northern hemisphere flu season swamping countries with influenza cases as well as COVID-19 is grim; co-infection with both respiratory viruses could be deadly. Many countries are already seeing a second wave of the coronavirus cases and the additional burden of caring for people with flu could be disastrous. Plus, people with flu symptoms will need testing to rule out COVID-19, and testing systems are already under strain almost everywhere.

Also, there could be an unexpected downside to fewer cases of flu: every year, researchers study circulating influenza viruses to guide the composition of the flu vaccine for the following year. Less circulating flu virus means it is harder to know which genetic variants have been most common, and are therefore most likely to be the dominating ones the following year. By the end of this month, flu experts will need to settle on the make-up of next year’s flu vaccine for the southern hemisphere. 

During these uncertain times, flu vaccinations will be more important than ever - especially for older people or those with underlying conditions. Because of this, flu vaccine manufacturers such GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca are ramping up production for the 2020-21 season in northern countries. The US CDC is expected to produce up to 198 million doses - an increase of 20 million compared to last year. Similarly the UK is expanding the age groups eligible for a free flu shot among both children and adults.

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Our immune systems are supposed to defend us from invading pathogens but, in the case of COVID-19, an immune overreaction may be to blame for severe illness.

Why I volunteered to be infected with coronavirus

Most people have been doing everything they can to avoid getting COVID-19, but in the coming days British history student Jacob Hopkins has chosen to be deliberately infected with SARS-CoV-2 as part of the world’s first Challenge Trial. He…

5 reasons to believe the COVID-19 pandemic might be slowing down

COVID-19 cases are falling week on week, so can we allow ourselves to be hopeful?

Could a universal coronavirus vaccine future-proof our response?

With three major coronavirus outbreaks in the last two decades – first SARS-CoV, then MERS-CoV, and now SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 – another outbreak is inevitable. Scientists are calling for the world to step up the search for a universal…

What are COVID-19 challenge trials and why do we need them?

A new trial about to start in the UK will deliberately infect people with the virus that causes COVID-19 – if we have vaccines already, why do we need this?

The largest global rollout of vaccines in history just got one step closer

The World Health Organization has given the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine an Emergency Use Listing, passing an important milestone before the first delivery of COVAX vaccines worldwide.

Do COVID-19 variants mean that we need a booster shot for our booster?

Oxford scientists are already working on an updated version of their COVID-19 vaccine to ensure people remain fully protected against new variants of SARS-CoV-2. But how would these be delivered and how often would they be needed? 

WHO experts have just recommended the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine: here’s what they found

The recommendations offer reassurance amid concern over whether some vaccines are as effective against new variants.

What are 'adverse events' and 'emergency use authorisation' in relation to vaccination?

While vaccines are the safest way to prevent the spread of infectious disease, a tiny proportion of those vaccinated may experience an adverse event. Here, we explain how often this happens and why.

Here’s how we could stop antimicrobial resistance becoming the next pandemic

Antimicrobial resistance was already a major global health threat, but now the potential increase in the use of antibiotics in response to the pandemic could exacerbate the problem and threaten a potentially even bigger global crisis.

How COVID-19 is altering cold and flu seasons

Pandemic restrictions and wider use of flu vaccines may have explained 2020’s record low cases of seasonal flu, but will the picture look like in tropical countries with year-round flu?

Why even a low efficacy COVID-19 vaccine could still be extremely useful

Efficacy rates for COVID-19 vaccines are higher than many scientists had dared dream of, but even if they prove less effective in real life, or in the face of new variants, they could still unlock normal life.

Who can’t have a COVID-19 vaccine?

The currently available coronavirus vaccines have been tested on adults of various ages, as well as those with long-term conditions, and appear to be safe. But there are a few groups who should avoid being vaccinated for now.

How safe are COVID-19 vaccines?

Given the speed at which COVID-19 vaccines have been developed, it is understandable that people want to know whether they are safe. So what measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of these new vaccines?

How India is using a digital track and trace system to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach everyone

A system originally designed to do real-time monitoring of vaccine supply chains in India has now been adapted to help ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach as many people as possible.

When Your Chance for a Covid Shot Comes, Don’t Worry About the Numbers

When getting vaccinated against covid-19, there’s no sense being picky. You should take the first authorized vaccine that’s offered, experts say.

COVID-19 impact ‘vastly underestimated’ in African countries

Zambian data challenges the assumption African populations may have been spared from COVID-19.

How accurate are lateral flow tests?

Will these rapid tests really allow us to lower our guard during the pandemic?

Lasting immunity: Why COVID-19 vaccines may succeed where natural infections fail

Immunity to most coronaviruses is short-lived, but will the same hold true for the virus that causes COVID-19 or vaccines against it?

5 Reasons to Wear a Mask Even After You’re Vaccinated

Vaccination, face coverings and physical distancing are essential parts of a team effort against the coronavirus.

Will the new variant of COVID-19 make re-infection more likely?

New variants of the coronavirus are causing alarm across the UK and South Africa, with many countries closing their borders to travellers from these countries. But what effect could new strains have on our ability to control the pandemic?

If I delay getting a COVID-19 vaccine, what impact will it have?

Taking a wait-and-see approach to COVID-19 vaccines could lead to only pockets of the population being protected. Will this be enough to end the pandemic?

How South Africa is preparing for its COVID-19 vaccine introduction

As participating countries look towards receiving their first batch of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX Facility, we examine how South Africa is ramping up its readiness.

Could COVID-19 vaccines be tweaked to cover new coronavirus variants?

We’ve always been able to adapt vaccines to protect against emerging variants and additional pathogen strains, but new vaccine platforms could make this even easier.

Why lockdown can be bad for your immune system - and what to do about it

Lockdowns are an effective way of reducing COVID-19 infections, but they could take a more general toll on our health if we allow them to.

From biodefence to the DRC: How the Ebola vaccine became one of the fastest vaccines to license in history

COVID-19 vaccines are set to become the quickest vaccines in history to go from initial trials to rollout, but what lessons can we learn from its speedy predecessor: the Ebola vaccine?

What do the new COVID-19 variants mean for vaccine development?

Viruses are constantly mutating and often this process does not have any impact on the risk they pose to humans. However, occasionally mutations can occur which make it easier for viruses to infect us, or which could render vaccines against them…

What you need to know about a COVID-19 vaccine

Answers to the most common questions about coronavirus vaccine development.

What are whole virus vaccines and how could they be used against COVID-19?

Whole virus vaccines use a weakened or deactivated version of the disease-causing virus to trigger protective immunity against it.

Seven vital questions about RNA Covid-19 vaccines

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines are more than 90% effective, as reported in phase III clinical trials – and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is the first Covid-19 vaccine to be licensed.

What are viral vector-based vaccines and how could they be used against COVID-19?

Viral vector-based vaccines use a harmless virus to smuggle the instructions for making antigens from the disease-causing virus into cells, triggering protective immunity against it.

What are protein subunit vaccines and how could they be used against COVID-19?

Protein subunit vaccines use fragments of protein from the disease-causing virus to trigger protective immunity against it.

What are nucleic acid vaccines and how could they be used against COVID-19?

Nucleic acid vaccines use genetic material from a disease-causing virus to trigger protective immunity against it.

What you need to know about COVID-19 vaccine approvals in Nigeria and South Africa

Before any COVID-19 vaccines can be delivered to the public, their use must be approved by national regulatory authorities. We look into the process before vaccines would be approved for distribution and use in Nigeria and South Africa.

What to expect when you get a COVID-19 vaccine

Now that the first COVID-19 vaccine has been approved, and others are on the way, what does getting vaccinated actually involve? Here are some of the logistics involved and what to expect after you’ve had your vaccine.

There are four types of COVID-19 vaccines: here’s how they work

The fight against COVID-19 has seen vaccine development move at record speed, with more than 170 different vaccines in trials. But how are they different from each other and how will they protect us against the disease?

Two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been secured to ensure that no-one misses out

The COVAX Facility plans to start rolling out the doses in early 2021 to high-risk groups in participating countries, with the aim of vaccinating up to 20% of populations of participating countries by the end of the year.

There’s a new strain of COVID-19 – should we worry?

Viruses mutate all the time, but this new mutation affects the viral protein that invades human cells. What does this mean for the pandemic and the vaccine?

How did scientists manage to develop safe COVID-19 vaccines in just ten months?

The COVID-19 vaccines currently rolling off production lines have been developed faster than any other vaccine against a new disease in history. How have scientists achieved this incredible feat? And could the lessons learned enable more rapid…

Can I catch COVID-19 from Christmas wrapping paper?

Coronavirus can survive on surfaces, so should unwrapping presents be considered risky? We examine the evidence.

How to stay safe from COVID-19 this festive period

COVID-19-related restrictions differ from country to country, but as families gather to celebrate during the festive holidays there are some important things you can do to protect yourselves and your loved ones against coronavirus.

What do immunity passports and vaccination certificates mean for COVID-19 restrictions?

Here’s why continuing to physically distance and wear masks is vital until we can be sure how long vaccine-acquired immunity lasts.

How small clinical trial sample sizes can offer important findings

Scientists have been racing to develop COVID-19 vaccines that could reach millions, yet many of the studies have surprisingly small sample sizes drawn from the clinical trials. Does that matter?

COVID-19 could undermine progress towards reducing infant mortality

Over the past three decades, improvements to maternal and newborn health have led to many more infants surviving beyond the first 28 days of life. But disruptions to health services caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may now be undoing years of hard…

Anxiety, depression and insomnia: the impact of COVID-19 on mental health

COVID-19 patients are at an increased risk of being diagnosed with anxiety, depression or insomnia. Here’s a closer look at how the SARS-CoV-2 virus can impact your mental health.

COVID-19 ‘Vaccine for the World’ shows up to 90% efficacy

Interim analysis of the AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine candidate – to which Gavi has secured access – suggests an efficacy of 62– 90%. Crucially, the vaccine can be administered and distributed using existing health care and supply chain…

What is lateral flow testing and how could it be deployed against coronavirus?

Unlike PCR tests, which involve complex laboratory equipment and highly trained staff, lateral flow tests can be processed on the spot and return a result far quicker. But how exactly do they work, and could they really make a difference to the…

What is the difference between efficacy and effectiveness?

The two terms used to describe how well a drug or vaccine works are often used interchangeably, but they are not actually the same thing – here’s why.

A smart label on vaccine vials will be vital for safely rolling out future COVID-19 vaccines

Interim results suggesting that Pfizer/BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine provides more than a 90% efficacy, offers hope that immunisation can be effective against COVID-19. But the need to store this vaccine at “ultra cold” temperatures could pose…

Six in ten children are immune to the COVID-19 virus despite never being infected by it

Immunity triggered by exposure to the coronaviruses that cause the common cold could protect people, especially children, against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Adverse events following immunisation: what are they, and when are they cause for concern?

A successful vaccine produces the best possible immune response, whilst keeping side effects to a minimum. When adverse events following immunisation (AEFIs) do occur, it is important that they are reported, especially if they are serious, even…

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine may be over 90% efficacious, so what happens next?

An interim analysis of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine candidate suggests is more efficacious than many had dared to expect. The announcement is a welcome indication that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine might be within reach, but there are…

Why we will always need vaccinations

Vaccination programmes have prevented millions of deaths worldwide, but their continued success relies on our continued participation.

Do mutations of COVID-19 virus in mink pose a threat to people?

With Denmark culling its entire farmed mink population following discovery of a mutated form of SARS-CoV2, are we at risk of further complications and diseases from animal-human transmission?

Why understanding superspreaders could be one key way of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic

Superspreading events, where one person infects tens of others, appear to be playing an increasingly significant role in the spread of COVID-19. So what have we learned about these events and how can we stop them from fuelling the pandemic?

How does COVID-19 trigger a loss of smell and other olfactory disorders?

Anosmia is the medical term for a sudden loss of smell and has been associated with COVID-19. Here’s a closer look at the olfactory dysfunctions linked to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

We need Covid-19 treatments as well as vaccines – and they have to work for everyone

Effective treatments that are accessible to everyone who needs them have to be part of the solution to the coronavirus pandemic – here's why.

What impact does malnutrition have on the effectiveness of vaccination?

Malnutrition can affect the immune system and the quality of immune response to vaccinations, with potential implications for low-income countries where COVID-19 is already fuelling a "hunger pandemic" in the most vulnerable people.

How COVID-19 may have increased dengue infections in Thailand and Singapore

Spending less time in the workplace usually results in lower rates of infectious disease, but workplace closures in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific may be increasing exposure to the mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus.

How geospatial technology can help to zero in on zero-dose children

Combining geographical information on populations, locations of health care sites, and the movement of vaccinators can offer insights into how efficient and equitable vaccination coverage is, and has great potential to improve immunisation…

Why some people might be immune to certain COVID-19 vaccines

Vaccines based on the common cold virus are at the forefront of the COVID-19 vaccine race, but they may be less effective in people who have previously been infected by these common pathogens. So how could we overcome this challenge?

Why handwashing with soap is the most effective way to stop viruses

Global Handwashing Day and the ongoing spread of COVID-19 is a timely reminder about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to stay healthy.

Will silent reinfections drive the spread of COVID?

People who have had COVID-19 can develop an immune response that normally protects people from recurrent infection. But now that reinfections of COVID-19 have been recorded, what does that mean for our ability to fight the virus?

What are monoclonal antibodies – and can they treat Covid-19?

For more than 30 years, monoclonal antibodies have transformed the way we treat many diseases. Researchers think they are also one of the most promising treatments for Covid-19. Here's why.

How emergency use authorisations could accelerate access to COVID-19 vaccines

Emergency use procedures are designed to make potentially life-saving medical products available as quickly as possible during health emergencies. A record number have been granted since the arrival of COVID-19 pandemic, but what does this mean…

From equality to global poverty: how Covid-19 is affecting societies and economies

The Covid-19 pandemic is a social and an economic crisis just as much as it is a health crisis – its repercussions, severe and far-reaching, are being felt across the world.

How do vaccine challenge trials ensure the benefits outweigh the risks?

The UK is expected to host the world’s first COVID-19 human “challenge” trials, which will involve deliberately infecting healthy volunteers with coronavirus to assess the effectiveness of experimental vaccines. So far, around 2,000 potential…

What does COVID-19 mean for this year’s flu season?

Every winter, hundreds of thousands become infected with seasonal influenza, which kills between 290,000 and 650,000 people worldwide each year. But this year, we have another respiratory illness to contend with: COVID-19. So, what does this mean…

Which COVID-19 test is most relevant to me?

At the beginning of the pandemic there was a mad scramble to develop a test which would accurately diagnose COVID-19 infection. Now, six months in, hundreds of testsare available – but how do they differ, and which test is the…

How can we make fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines a reality?

How will COVAX ensure that COVID-19 vaccine doses reach all countries at the same time, and protect those people that need it the most?

There’s more than one way for a COVID-19 vaccine to end this pandemic

Effective vaccines prevent individuals from developing disease, but some also stop people transmitting the pathogens that cause them. What role will they have to play in ending the COVID-19 pandemic?

Why is no one safe until everyone is safe during a pandemic?

No one is safe until everyone is safe. This phrase has become a slogan for global health figures but what does it mean in the worldwide COVID-19 response?

Are vaccines a global public good?

As COVID-19 vaccines have a critical role to play in ending this pandemic crisis, many experts have described them as a global public good. But what exactly does that mean?

How vaccination can reduce sepsis and save millions of lives

Many of the infections that can lead to sepsis are becoming resistant to antibiotics, which means that preventing them by vaccination is critical.

Different types of immunity and why they matter to COVID-19

Antibodies are one route to immunity against disease, but T cells and innate immunity also play a crucial role in protecting us. So, how could these different types of immunity be mobilised against COVID-19

COVAX explained

To end this global health crisis we don’t just need COVID-19 vaccines, we also need to ensure that everyone in the world has access to them.

Who should we vaccinate first?

When COVID-19 vaccines become available demand is likely to outstrip supply, at least initially. So, who should be first in line?

Is it possible to get COVID-19 more than once?

What do the first confirmed cases of reinfection with COVID-19 mean for the rest of us and future of this pandemic?

Can vaccine clinical trials be sped up safely for COVID-19?

One of the most time-consuming parts of vaccine research and development is the testing of a vaccine. How does this work, and how, in the context of COVID-19, are scientists trying to speed it up?

How do vaccines actually work?

Vaccines prevent millions of deaths every year by harnessing the body’s immune system to create defences against future infection. But how exactly does this work?

Why COVID-19 means Gavi is supporting more countries than ever before

Since 2000, Gavi has been increasing equitable access to vaccines by working with the world’s poorest countries. Yet during a pandemic, more prosperous countries are also at risk of falling through the net. How will Gavi respond?

Gavi has helped lower-income nations narrow the vaccine coverage gap

Lower-income countries are seeing better vaccination coverage than they have had in decades, but the COVID-19 pandemic is threatening to hamper progress.

Can the BCG vaccine protect against COVID-19?

While researchers racing to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, the potential of the BCG vaccine – used to prevent TB – to slow the pandemic has been hotly debated. New research suggesting that the BCG could prevent severe COVID-19 disease has made…

How do we know who is immune to COVID-19?

With surveys using antibody tests yielding disappointing results, there are growing concerns that fewer people may have already been infected with SARS-CoV-2 than was previously hoped. Yet antibodies are only part of our immune system’s response…

Ebola is officially over in North Kivu and Ituri - what can we learn for COVID-19?

On 25 June, the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that has raged for more than 2 years is over. What does this mean for the country and what can it teach us about ending the COVID-19 pandemic?

Why development aid transparency matters

At a time when economies are under pressure and government spending is under scrutiny, transparency and accountability within the development sector is more important than ever.

Will we see a deadly second wave of COVID-19 later in the year?

Beijing, a city month’s ahead of Europe in COVID-19 terms, is now plunging back into lockdown. Many are concerned that this could be the first hint of a second wave. But is that likely and what would it look like?

The long-term health effects of COVID-19

Even mild symptoms from the new coronavirus can last for weeks, or disappear only to rebound with renewed intensity, so what long-term effects does the disease have on our health?

When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines how can governments back a winner?

With so many COVID-19 candidate vaccines in development, and with most of them likely to fail, what’s the best way for governments to ensure they back a winner and ensure there are enough doses for everyone?

Do lockdowns actually work?

A third of the world has been under some form of lockdown to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, but has it made any difference to the number of cases and deaths?

How are Gavi's private sector partners stepping up to help fight COVID-19?

Despite the devastating economic impact this pandemic has had on businesses across the world, many are doing their part to bring this crisis to an end.

Gavi provides funding to support the pandemic response in Myanmar

As one of the poorest low-income countries in South East Asia, Myanmar faces many barriers to implementing a strong and effective response to COVID-19. Gavi has now allocated over US$ 8.8 million to help ensure that Myanmar is better able to…

When will it be safe to hug people again?

The physical distancing necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 can be emotionally distressing, but since the virus is unlikely to disappear soon, when will life regain a semblance of normality?

Why is the Global Vaccine Summit so important?

The pandemic will only strengthen our commitment to vaccinate vulnerable communities. On 4 June 2020 Gavi will hold its third donor pledging conference online with the aim to raise vital funds for the next five years.

How does COVID-19 compare to past pandemics?

The COVID-19 pandemic is most often compared to the H1N1 influenza pandemic of 1918, or Spanish flu, even though there have been three other major pandemics since then. So how does this coronavirus pandemic compare to those?

Why are BAME groups experiencing high rates of death from COVID-19?

Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in Europe and the USA are overrepresented in COVID-19 deaths. In the bid to slow and, ultimately, stop the spread of COVID-19 it is vital to understand the reasons why, in order to adequately…

COVID-19’s collateral damage could devastate low- and middle-income countries

While the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths stays relatively low across Africa, Asia and Latin America compared with the rest of the world, the economic and social consequences are likely to reverberate for decades to come.

Could COVID-19 accelerate the digitisation of vaccine records?

The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting vaccination programmes across the world, but this could provide an opportunity to hasten the move to digital record-keeping systems.

What is COVID-19’s ‘R number’ and why does it matter?

Altering the ease with which the new coronavirus spreads in the population is critical to controlling the pandemic. The number of people infected by any single case - the R number – will be key. If the virus is able to infect more than one person…

How quickly can we get a COVID-19 vaccine?

It is clear that the search for COVID-19 vaccines is being fast-tracked like never before. In just a few months, we now have over 100 vaccine candidates in development, ten of which are being tested in clinical trials.

What is contact tracing, how could it reduce the spread of COVID-19, and how could it affect me?

Controlling the pandemic demands a multi-pronged approach with other key methods like contact tracing to help stop the chain of transmission.

The future with COVID-19: three potential scenarios

What our lives will look in the short to medium term future is uncertain, but what does seem clear is we won’t return to a pre-COVID-19 life any time soon. Here are three potential scenarios that infectious disease experts have sketched out for…

How COVID-19 could be causing a rare complication in children

Initially, children seemed to be least affected by the new coronavirus. However, new evidence suggests that a small number might have a rare immune reaction to COVID-19, with some needing intensive care.

How equipment is protecting us against COVID-19

Personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as masks and gloves are becoming part of our daily lives, but what counts as effective PPE and what doesn’t?

How can the technology in our pockets track COVID-19?

Tracking who is infected is essential to controlling the transmission of contagious diseases. Could digital technology prove to be a game-changer for the current pandemic?

10 infectious diseases that could be the next pandemic

Because of vaccination, many deadly diseases are now preventable. But we still lack vaccines for other potentially lethal diseases that could spread to become pandemics like COVID-19. Here is a list of 10 diseases to watch.

COVID-19: Diagnostic testing uses, types and challenges

Even when a COVID-19 vaccine is available, testing can help pinpoint populations who should be prioritised for immunisation.

What is an Advance Market Commitment and how could it help beat COVID-19?

How we can ensure that once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, it is accessible to everyone that needs it.

When is it safe to lift COVID-19 lockdown?

With so many lives and livelihoods at stake, when will the lockdowns end, and what will they look like across the world?

Will wearing a mask protect me from COVID-19?

How exactly is the COVID-19 virus spread and will a mask protect me?

Can routine immunisation be carried out safely during COVID-19 pandemic?

How does the benefit of stopping the spread of coronavirus weigh up against the risks from diseases such as measles?

When is COVID-19 most contagious and why is self-isolation so important?

Although there are guidelines on how long people should self-isolate when infected, the data on how long people remain contagious is not yet fully understood.

Why human impact on the environment is leading to infections like COVID-19

As we continue to encroach on the environment and erode natural habitats, the likelihood of other diseases like COVID-19 emerging to devastate the planet are high.

What kind of tests are there for COVID-19?

Large-scale testing for COVID-19 could help solve some of the mysteries surrounding the virus that are still puzzling scientists.

What is COVID-19 and how is it spread?

With nearly 550,000 people infected, almost 25,000 dead, and hundreds of millions in lockdown across the globe, the coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill. But what do we know about COVID-19 and what can we do to fight this…

What is herd immunity?

The idea of herd immunity as the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered heated debate, but what is herd immunity and how does it work? 

Why is coronavirus lockdown necessary?

With an increasing number of countries around the globe going into lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people forced to stay home may be wondering why these measures are necessary, how long they will need to go on for and what it will…

What is Gavi’s role in stopping the COVID-19 pandemic?

On the most recent issue of The Bio Report podcast, Gavi's Aurélia Nguyen discusses COVID-19 vaccine development, the role of the Vaccine Alliance in stopping the pandemic, and shares lessons learned from the 2014 Ebola outbreak that may prove…

Research summary: How do you beat the COVID-19 pandemic in the absence of a drug or vaccine?

If COVID-19 epidemics are not controlled, 510,000 people could die in the UK and 2.2 million in the USA.

What not to touch: how to avoid contact with the new coronavirus

We touch countless objects every day, from house keys to our mobile phones. The virus that causes COVID-19 can last for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours in the air (in the form of aerosol droplets) before drifting down onto surfaces,…

How clinical vaccine trials are speeding up in a pandemic

Clinical trials for vaccines can take 10-15 years and cost hundreds of millions of dollars, which is why pharmaceutical companies can be reluctant to start down that challenging road without a definite pay-off at the end. As the COVID-19 pandemic…

How do you stop a pandemic?

From travel restrictions to social distancing, what is the best way to stop a pandemic?