Californians woke up to the ominous news, reported by CBSLA:
BREAKING: A COVID testing site at the Getty Center has detected LA's first case of flurona, a combination of influenza and coronavirus.
Oh no. Lock it all down right now.
#BREAKING: A COVID testing site at the Getty Center has detected LA's first case of flurona, a combination of influenza and coronavirus. https://t.co/POJ29MnEZD
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) January 5, 2022
CBS' terrible wording claims that there's a new variant, a combination of COVID and influenza. Obviously that must be so much worse and DEADLY.
I regret to inform LA County Public Health Director Not-a-Doctor Barbara Ferrer that the CBS report is fake news.
A (privately-run) testing site in Los Angeles recently began using dual tests “when people who had tested negative for COVID came back because they were still experiencing symptoms.” The swab can detect both Influenza A and B in addition to SARS-Co-V-2. One young man tested positive for both COVID and influenza, but the CBS report doesn't say which type of influenza. Not a new variant of the Wuhan flu.
The not-new phenomenon is called coinfection, and according to a study published on the NIH website in June 2021, it was already happening with COVID and influenza as of September 2020. Up to 4 percent of those infected with COVID in Asia were simultaneously infected with influenza, but true worldwide numbers couldn't be determined because the data wasn't available. And why wasn't the data available? Because we weren't testing for it. Now we are in a somewhat limited way (if the government can't get COVID tests to testing sites currently, expecting them to get dual tests out is a ludicrous proposition), and obviously the number of people coinfected will increase.
For now, expect most coinfection cases to be reported in hospitalized patients, since that's where dual testing is most likely to take place. That's already happening in Los Angeles, further proof that CBSLA's BREAKING story about “the first ‘Flurona'” case in Los Angeles is fake news. They report it in their own article. Dr. Otto Yang, an infectious disease expert for UCLA Health, told the outlet that there are several people currently hospitalized with both influenza and coronavirus. He added:
If it's a bad virus season and a lot of virus is circulating, it's not unusual to be exposed to more than one because they all travel the same.
As testing increases we're sure to hear of more coinfected patients, but there's no need to be any more concerned about it than one would during any other bad virus season.
Sorry, fearmongers. Despite WaPo's big explainer on the “phenomenon,” Flurona is never going to happen. Stop trying to make it happen.