What ASCs need to know about the 'tripledemic'

Hospitalizations in the U.S. for COVID-19, the flu and respiratory syncytial virus — collectively referred to as a "tripledemic" — are expected to peak at the end of January, according to the latest forecast from life science analytics company Airfinity. 

As COVID-19 cases increase nationwide, here is what ASCs need to know about the upcoming simultaneous peak season of COVID-19, the flu and RSV:

• The modeling predicts there will be around 57,000 weekly admissions at that time, compared to last year's winter peak of around 80,000. While lower than last year, the respiratory viruses' combined burden on hospitals is still predicted to be worse than pre-pandemic. 

• The forecasting anticipates total admissions for the viruses will reach 1.15 million this winter, more than three times the level seen during the last pre-pandemic respiratory virus season in 2018-19.

• There were 17,418 new hospital admissions related to COVID-19 for the week ending Aug. 26, a 15.7 percent jump from the previous week.

• Weekly emergency department visits for COVID-19, the flu and RSV have largely remained flat in recent weeks. However, the CDC issued a health alert Sept. 5 saying RSV activity has risen across the Southeast in recent weeks, suggesting the nation will see an uptick within a few months. 

• Vaccines will be available for each of the illnesses this year, which experts are hopeful will limit severe disease and burden on hospitals. 

• This year marks the first time RSV vaccines will be available for adults 60 and older, a group at high risk of severe disease. A monoclonal antibody will also be available for infants and toddlers.

• The FDA approved updated COVD-19 boosters from Pfizer and Moderna on Sept. 11. The shots, which are formulated to target the XBB.1.5 subvariant, are expected to be available later this week.

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