So THAT's Why Everyone Actually Seems So Ill This Winter

Turns out, we may have been suffering from multiple viruses at once...
RealPeopleGroup via Getty Images

Sickness seems to have torn through the UK recently – but, despite worries, it doesn’t seem to all be Covid.

In fact, according to University of Cambridge virologist, Dr Chris Smith, Covid is “quite far down the list” of viruses making people ill right now, with diseases like influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) taking the lead.

These can cause really difficult illnesses – but, as Dr Smith noted, there’s another reason why you might feel particularly wiped out this winter.

It turns out, you can get some of these diseases at the same time.

“We occasionally see people who are diagnosed with two, sometimes three, viral infections simultaneously,” he told the BBC.

He added anyone who suffered from an “awful cold” over Christmas or New Year may have actually “succumbed to several things either all at the same time or one after another like a domino effect”.

“And that has the effect of really laying you low,” Dr Smith added.

milan2099 via Getty Images

The specialist also noted that “we are due for a bad year this year” due to the cycles these seasonal diseases tend to come in, too.

As if those two factors weren’t bad enough, it turns out the pandemic also left us all with something known as “immunity debt”.

Dr Smith explained: “Because we had fewer things that we caught during the Covid years where we were going through periodic lockdowns, it means we weren’t running into these things so often, so we weren’t topping up our immunity.

“So, our collective population immunity has become somewhat lower and therefore this is giving some of these things the edge, and they’re spreading and causing more infections that they would do normally.”

It’s worth noting that experts told ABC News last year there’s a chance we may have all forgotten just how rotten a cold can make you feel, too.

As Infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University, Dr William Schaffner, said: “All of us have forgotten about what common colds used to be like, and we’re getting them now again.”

So, does that mean we’re all just suffering from a cold? Not quite, according to Dr Smith’s team.

He noted illnesses like RSV, flu and Covid can “all present in exactly the same way” – as they’re respiratory infections causing a runny nose, a sore throat, sometimes a fever and a cough – making it harder to identify exactly what it is without a test.

But, by testing a “range of different places across the region” recently, Dr Smith’s team found influenza is the most prominent diagnosis right now.

Dr Smith did caveat that this clearly reflects those who felt ill enough to seek medical advice, but still suggested this accurately reflected the wider community.