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Immunity debt: does it really exist?

Some claim the rise in winter infections has been caused by the reduction of seasonal bugs during lockdowns. But experts are sceptical about these oversimplified explanations

The deaths of at least 74 people, including 19 children, from the invasive bacterial infection group A streptococcus, or strep A, are the most extreme consequences of a wave of winter infections that have seemingly left most of the country coughing and sneezing. The parlous state of the nation’s health has prompted suggestions that we are now paying an “immunity debt” incurred by the reduction of common infections during the Covid-19 lockdowns of 2020 and 2021. But experts seem divided about whether the debt concept is genuine, let alone whether it explains the prevalence of non-Covid afflictions.

As with so many of the debates about the outcomes of the pandemic, there do not appear to be simple answers – but no shortage of self-proclaimed “experts” ready to give them anyway. While there are good reasons to believe that the measures taken to reduce the spread of the coronavirus have broader implications for common infectious diseases, there is no one-case-fits-all explanation for the spate of winter bugs, much less any obvious conclusions to be drawn about pandemic management.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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