This year’s flu season hit North America already after a slow start. Differently from the 2017-2018 flu season, which was caused by H3N2, this year we’re facing the H1N1 virus strain, the same responsible for the swine flu epidemic that caused the death of 400 Canadian in 2009. But which influenza strain between H1N1 and H3N2 is more severe?
The first thought would be that H1N1 is much more dangerous than H3N2, but it is “too early to really judge if this is going to be a more severe season in comparison to other seasons,” as Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital, said. “I would wager that this year’s influenza season will be a typical influenza season, and not be anything more severe than what we would have expected,” he added.
H1N1 Vs. H3N2 – Which Influenza Strain Is More Severe?
Dr. Bogoch also said that, for the populations, a flu season led by H3N2 is more severe that one caused by H1N1. “At a population level, typically seasons that are H3N2, those are typically more severe seasons,” said Bogoch.
Also, there are much more hospitalizations due to H3N2 than H1N1 can ever cause. Besides, H3N2 influenza strain is also more resistant to vaccines in comparison with H1N1. “On top of that, the vaccinations for last year’s flu virus wasn’t as effective as we would have liked it to be,” he said. Luckily, that would not happen this flu season since flu shots are effective against H1N1.
“A majority of my patients who have required the ICU or who have died have been in their 20s and 30s, which is usually a sign of a serious flu season ahead,” said Jason Persoff, MD, from the University of Colorado. According to him, this flu season would be more severe than the last year’s one.