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Covid, RSV, and the flu: Novant Health gives briefing ahead of winter virus season

The influenza virus. The small-molecule candidate drug described <strong></strong>in <em>Science</em> this week binds to the "stalks" of the proteins studding the virus' outer coat; in still-early experiments that seems to prevent the virus from infiltrating cells of the human lung.
Ian Cuming
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Ikon Images/Getty Images
The influenza virus responsible for the flu, one of several viral issues facing the region this winter.

Tuesday morning, Novant Health held a briefing to answer questions about Covid and the flu moving into this fall and winter, and explained RSV in more detail.

Dr. David Priest, an infectious disease expert with Novant Health, said RSV — a respiratory virus that often manifests as an ordinary cold, but can be more serious — is impacting the region right now.

Right now, 85% of Novant Health’s child inpatient population are in due to RSV, Priest said.

Respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, typically affects children five and under, and it’s a fairly common childhood disease, so healthcare providers working at Novant are quick to diagnose it when they see it. The danger is not extreme, but for some, it’s more serious.

“The danger is really for all kids, but really kids that have chronic medical problems. So kids with asthma, kids with other underlying immunodeficiencies, kids with underlying lung issues are going to be more at risk for complications," Priest said.

This year viruses are hitting harder because communal immunity is at an all-time low for things like the flu and RSV. The pandemic has had a massive impact on exposure to viruses we were seeing year after year.

“It's really interesting from an epidemiologic standpoint for people to think about this. But if you suddenly take that rolling immunity year over year… And you just stop it like what happened to the pandemic, everyone stayed home, there were masks, that immunity fell off," Priest said.

Addressing the issue of “vaccination fatigue” after nearly two years of messaging for multiple rounds of Covid vaccines and boosters, Priest said that people need to realize how "special" vaccines are. He said they have the ability to keep you safe and healthy, or mitigate symptoms, and encouraged people to evaluate their own level of risk and get vaccinated when appropriate.

Camille hails from Long Island, NY where the exuberance of sports season never ended. She graduated from Boston University with a BS in Journalism and double minors in Classical Civilizations and Philosophy. Chasing stories has been a passion of hers since she was little, channeling itself through her art and writing. Camille’s journey in audio is never ending and she’s served as a podcast producer on multiple shows. When she’s not working she enjoys chatting and gaming with friends, reading, and creating digital art.