U.S. health agencies are preparing for a flu season that will be complicated by the coronavirus pandemic, which they don’t expect to be mitigated by a vaccine anytime soon.

Covid activity is expected to “continue for some time” and “could place a tremendous burden” on an already stretched health-care system if coupled with the influenza season that comes each fall, top officials including Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, will tell House lawmakers on Tuesday, according to prepared testimony.

The testimony contrasts with recent rhetoric from President Donald Trump, who has pushed to move on from the virus despite almost 120,000 American deaths from Covid-19 and large rises in cases in some states as they re-open. According to the testimony, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield, Fauci and Food and Drug Administration Chairman Stephen Hahn will tell Congress that the duration of the pandemic is unknown and that a vaccine that can be distributed widely isn’t imminent, despite Trump’s push for one by the end of the year.

“The rigorous clinical testing required to establish vaccine safety and efficacy means that it might take some time for a licensed SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be available to the general public,” according to prepared testimony by NIAID. “The Covid-19 response currently is focused on the proven public health practices of containment and mitigation.”

Part of that mitigation is anticipating the burdens of handling Covid-19 and influenza at the same time.

Dual Test
The CDC developed a test that can check for both viruses at the same time and requested emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration last week, according to the testimony.

“This will save public health laboratories both time and resources, including testing materials that are in short supply,” the officials said.

At a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, Trump said he wanted to slow down Covid-19 testing because the U.S. is finding too many cases. The officials though said that his administration is doing the opposite to help states safely reopen.

“Current efforts are focused on further scaling up testing capabilities to guarantee that each state has the testing supplies and capabilities they need to reopen according to their own individual state plans,” according to the testimony.

The CDC gave $140 million earlier this month to 64 jurisdictions throughout the country to help states prepare for the flu season through an existing immunization agreement. The goal is to increase flu vaccinations for vulnerable populations and increase access for uninsured, high-risk people.

--With assistance from Jeannie Baumann and Shira Stein.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.