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As new COVID variant drives surge in cases, virologists look ahead to flu season

As new COVID variant drives surge in cases, virologists look ahead to flu season
As new COVID variant drives surge in cases, virologists look ahead to flu season 02:19

BALTIMORE -- COVID-19 variants continue to disrupt summer plans as many Americans contract the virus. Experts say more problems could be on the horizon.

Doctors are tracking a collision of high influenza and COVID-19 cases in countries where winter has already arrived. One of those countries is Australia. Experts at Johns Hopkins said Australia is dealing with major flu cases along with COVID-19.

That country is already in winter and the caseloads there could be a harbinger of things to come this fall and winter in the United States.

"What Australia is showing us is that we might expect to not only see a large surge of influenza, but in Australia, it's coming earlier than expected," said Andy Pekosz, virologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "So we need to prepare here in the U.S. for an early surge of influenza which may be linked to a surge in COVID cases come the fall when everybody starts doing more indoor activities."

Americas are outside and enjoying summer but they are still finding it hard to escape COVID-19.

This weekend, CBS News reported about 75% of Americans live in an area with a medium or high risk for COVID-19. Sub-variants are causing an overwhelming number of cases, experts said.

"It's the B.5 variant that's growing. It has the capacity to evade the immunity that we've acquired from vaccination and also from prior infection," said Dr. Scott Gottlieb the former FDA Commissioner.

Maryland's current positivity rate is 9.07%. There was a time when 5% was an alarming rate.

The state's positivity rate is lower than a week ago, but more than 1,800 people tested positive since Sunday alone.

Experts still urge people to get vaccinated because the disease could be less severe if people get the shot, wear masks and take precautions based on their risk level.

WJZ asked residents in North Baltimore if they believe the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

"No. I don't think so," one woman answered.

"From what I hear, it's not," said Stephen George, who pointed out that he trusts the advice of medical experts. "I listen to the doctors. I am a lot more comfortable than I have ever been with it, but I still listen to the doctors."

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