Health officials have started to warn the public about the dangers posed by an imminent “tridemic,” three different endemic and pandemic viruses that are becoming prevalent around the same time. Because airborne viruses can be so easily transmitted between people, it’s important to have a strategy to mitigate your risk.
What is the tridemic?
The tridemic, or “tripledemic”, refers to the risk of being exposed to a variety of pathogens, mainly influenza (flu), SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that leads to the COVID-19 disease), and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Health organizations reported that the flu was widespread in the U.S., Russia, and Austria (1) (2) (3). SARS-CoV-2 infections have been steady across much of the world, though more widespread in some countries in Austria, Greece, France, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Australia (4).
Rhinoviruses and enteroviruses (viruses that often show themselves as the common cold) spread is also on an upswing, further complicating the already concerning risks to public health.
Due to the widely publicized dangers associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, those risks can be poorly understood. The viruses associated with these illnesses can be life-threatening. Flu incidents were significantly reduced as a secondary result of COVID precautions and mitigation precautions during both the 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022 flu seasons (5).
Though flu is commonly circulated in winter months and familiar to the public, it is important to remember that the flu can be deadly. For example, the United States experienced 390,000 flu-related hospitalizations and 25,000 flu-related deaths (6). During that same year, 1,076 Australians died from influenza (7).
Public officials emphasize that both COVID-19 and flu vaccination provide the best protection from illness.
The third virus within the tridemic, RSV, poses a more targeted risk than flu and SARS-CoV-2, and should be no less of a concern for the public. RSV infection can result in respiratory illness and death, primarily impacting infants, people over the age of 65, or children with lung or heart disease. Annually, there are an estimated 100,000 RSV deaths globally (8).
There are preventative medicines for RSV and as of December 2022 a potential vaccine is being developed and reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for older adults and children (9).
As of the fall, many COVID-19 vaccine recipients have waning immunization if they haven’t kept up on booster shots. When flu and RSV risks are combined with reduced COVID-19 immunization, there is an amplified need to be attentive to prevention strategies.
What can we do to help control the spread of viruses?
Several strategies have been used and proven effective in reducing COVID-19 transmission. When recommended by public health officials, there are several steps that have demonstrated their effectiveness:
1. social distancing: maintaining six feet or greater distance between yourself and others in public
2. vaccination: getting vaccinated and having timely vaccination booster shots
3. wearing a mask: ideally, wearing a K95 / N95 / FFP2 respirator in public spaces
4. ventilation: maintaining natural ventilation to control aerosols when practical during appropriate seasons
5. hand washing: frequently washing hands and avoiding touching the eyes, nose, and mouth.
6. air purification can play an important role in controlling virus infection, though it is not the sole component of a virus mitigation strategy
Given these recommendations, air purification isn’t the first line of defense in virus protection. But HEPA air purification combined with those proven mitigation strategies has demonstrated its effectiveness in controlling virus circulation.
Public health organizations like the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Public Health Ontario, and the government of New Zealand recommend using HEPA air purifiers to help control exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (10) (11) (12) (13).
How IQAir’s HyperHEPA technology helps fight viruses
IQAir’s high-performance HyperHEPA technology is proven to capture viruses.
Virus particles are among the smallest particles on earth, ranging from 0.005 to 0.3 microns in diameter. They can be transmitted between people when respiratory droplets are expelled as infected people cough, sneeze, or breathe. Viruses like SARS CoV-2 can then be spread through contact, short range transmission, or become aerosolized and infect people through in long-range transmission.
When air remains unfiltered in a room for a long period of time, airborne concentrations of a virus can become high. IQAir filtration and engineered filtration pressure differentials can then be helpful in capturing aerosolized particles. IQAir’s HyperHEPA technology is proven to trap ultrafine particulate matter as small as 0.003 microns in diameter, the smallest particles that exist.
While the tridemic should be a cause for concern, effective mitigation strategies can make your gatherings and environments safer. And high-performance air purification can be effective in helping keep viruses out of homes, schools, and workplaces.
When partnered with effective, proven strategies for virus control, it is possible to reduce risk and enjoy the season.