Predictions for the 2021 flu season and how health brands can reach and care for more people this ‘Chills and Ills’ season.
Flu modelling is developed by several key, global agencies, such as the CDC and national bodies like NSIG in NZ. When new flu strains emerge, they are picked up by monitoring labs in the Asia area, that data is used to model and predict the following Northern Hemisphere and subsequent, Sothern Hemisphere flu seasons.
COVID is disrupting the modelling and subsequent “normal” flu vaccine development in 2021 – 2022 and while the monitoring bodies are ‘50/50’ on what will happen, there are several significant developments that have been identified that are of concern to consumers and present an opportunity to brands to care for the community this Winter.
1. A twindemic?
There’s the potential scenario of a ‘twindemic’ with both covid and flu circulating at the same time producing an exponential increase in respiratory illnesses and loading of the health system. A person could contract COVID and the flu simultaneously, or sequentially, adding to the impact of flu on an already compromised immune system.
2. Reduced flu vaccine potency
The current emerging flu genomes are used to develop the following year’s flu vaccine. One of the impacts of lockdown and closed borders is that there has been very little flu circulating and mutating into new strands. This also means that vaccine developers have a narrow band of genomes to work with to develop the 2021-22 flu vaccine compromising its effectiveness to cover people for the flu strands that will emerge as we start to socialise and travel again. As we’ve seen with COVID and previously measles, we are one plane flight away from flu entering NZ.
Ironically too, with low/no exposure in 2020 to flu, this will cause a drop in natural immunity resulting in a higher susceptible population to flu in the 2021/22 season
All these elements together may also create Flu peaks happening outside of flu seasons. Australia saw a rebound of flu after lockdowns finished as socialising returned, outside the typical flu season. (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/01/covid-19-measures-also-suppress-flu-now)
The 2021-21 flu season could be one the longest and most intense we’ve experienced in NZ for a long time or, hopefully, the ‘new, new’ of WHF, hand washing and self-isolating when ‘sniffly’, will bring a new level of social containment and flu control.
Either way, consumers will be looking to boost their immunity and for symptom control for their Winter ‘chills and ills’, in bigger numbers than before and across a wider range of products and over a longer time frame. Brands with Immunity support, prevention, symptom management, recovery and add on products that support the effects of flu eg sleep and stress support and products that enhance ‘zoom-call’ appearance, will have a big opportunity this 2021 Winter and beyond, into Spring.
At BrandWorld, we use the Family Health Diary, Winter Clinic, to support brands to reach over 1 million New Zealanders. We’re taking bookings now for this years’ FHD Winter Clinic, get in touch to secure a place for your brand.