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As COVID Mitigation Strategies Relax, Other Respiratory Viruses Rebound

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Sinha

Pranay Sinha, MD
Section of Infectious Diseases
Boston University School of Medicine

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: We hypothesized that mitigation measures such as physical distancing and mask wearing instituted in Boston would reduce transmission of common respiratory viruses such as influenza, Rhinovirus, and Parainfluenzavirus. We compared the rate of detection of such viruses at Boston Medical Center on comprehensive respiratory panels in the ambulatory, emergency room, and hospital settings in 2020 to rates in the previous five years.

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?

Response:We found that the rates in 2020 in the weeks before the social distancing measures were essentially the same as those in corresponding weeks in the previous five years. However, we saw an around 80% reduction in the rate of viral detection in the weeks following institution of SARS-CoV-2 mitigation measures. Interestingly, within 2-3 weeks of the relaxation of mitigation measures, we found an increase in rates of respiratory viral infections.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Response: One major take away of this study is that even once the pandemic resolves, the practices implemented to reduce COVID-19 transmission may be advisable for vulnerable individuals such as the elderly or the immunocompromised, particularly in high-risk settings such as nursing homes, assisted living facilities, entertainment venues, or during travel, especially during the winter months at the annual peak of most respiratory viral infections. Measures such as mask wearing and social distancing when symptomatic are already commonplace in East Asia and, based on our results, such norms would have considerable value in American cities like Boston.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Our study was an observational study. We are unable to pinpoint the degree to which an individual mitigation measure decreased viral transmission. Future studies should try to parse out what the most effective strategies are–which measures are necessary and which are sufficient?


Sinha Pranay, Katherine Reifler, Michael Rossi, Manish Sagar, COVID-19 mitigation strategies were associated with decreases in other respiratory virus infections, Open Forum Infectious Diseases, 2021;, ofab105, https://doi.org/10.1093/ofid/ofab105



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Last Updated on March 25, 2021 by Marie Benz MD FAAD