ER Editor: So why are flu cases down SO DRAMATICALLY?
We offer this laughingly confident explanation from Australia’s ABC, of the type ‘See! our covid measures worked‘:
Physical distancing, frequently washing your hands, and staying home when you are sick have not only stopped the spread of coronavirus in regional Western Australia, but the precautions have also led to a 95 per cent decrease in the state’s flu cases.
In the state’s seven regions, the WA Health Department has recorded 216 influenza notifications this year to August 14, compared to 4,418 at the same time last year, and 429 in 2018.
Flu cases in the metropolitan area have also fallen, with 994 confirmed flu cases so far this year, down from 17,292 in 2019.
The Australian Medical Association WA President, Andrew Miller, said it was a “silver lining” of the global pandemic.
The situation is far less clear cut. We cite lines of reasoning from this piece by CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) at the University of Minnesota (Experts: Don’t count on mild flu season amid COVID-19). Right off the bat, the title alone shows that flu experts are not confidently explaining away this season’s low flu stats, and that the situation could easily change:
The Southern Hemisphere had a very light flu season in 2020, with Australia seeing only 315 cases over its winter, down 99.8% from the 130,000 cases seen in most years. But flu experts say that, while the low numbers could portend a similar scenario in the Northern Hemisphere, it would be a foolhardy not to prepare for high caseloads this winter.
Edward Belongia, MD, an infectious disease epidemiologist at Marshfield Research Institute in Wisconsin, said that he doesn’t think anyone can predict how severe the flu season will be or how it will co-circulate with COVID-19, because much is still unknown about the novel coronavirus and there is no clear relationship between events in the hemispheres.
“We don’t have many [non-influenza] pandemics to study,” he said. “The message is be prepared for a bad flu season on top of a bad COVID season.”
Another explanation indicates that, apparently, viruses don’t compete, and that Covid measures DO NOT GUARANTEE low flu case numbers in any case:
Richard Webby, PhD, a virologist at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, pointed out that Southern Hemisphere countries that haven’t followed strict face covering and physical distancing protocols, such as Peru and Chile, also had very low flu activity over the winter. “If we extrapolate that activity to the Northern Hemisphere, we could also have a light influenza season,” he said.
Webby said that, while no one can predict the severity of any given flu season with accuracy, “my gut feeling is we’re not going to have both [flu and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19] circulating extremely widely,” due to viral competition, in which the pandemic virus has the advantage.
A contributor to this article also recommends vaccinating against the flu, which flies in the face of much research, including a 2020 Pentagon study, showing that flu vaccination makes people up to 36% more susceptible to NON-FLU viral respiratory infections (see this for links to several relevant studies).
What we can say from the reputable piece we quoted from above, the experts themselves seem to actually have no idea.
Even family and hospital doctors, faced with a patient with respiratory symptoms and wall-to-wall media hyping Covid, could be mistaken for believing they have a Covid case before them instead of a flu case, especially when symptoms are more or less the same and that there may be a small financial incentive for reporting respiratory problems as Covid.
Phil Kerpen below, speaking to Laura Ingraham, addresses the political motivation to bump up the Covid numbers for the political agenda of lockdown at the expense of flu cases.
Here is the relevant graph from the WHO website:
Flu cases ‘drop’ 95% compared to last year. Are patients being misdiagnosed as having COVID-19?
Could it be… and stay with me on this… that many of the illnesses that are attributed to COVID-19 are actually just the flu?
COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus and the flu is caused by an influenza virus. These are two similar but distinct types of viruses that can be easily differentiated in a lab. But new data from the CDC may point to the flu being misdiagnosed as COVID-19, resulting in higher coronavirus numbers but much lower flu numbers. In fact, there has been a 95% decrease in flu cases during current weeks 40-41.
This time last year, there were 1,251 flu cases reported to the CDC during weeks 40-41. This is about average. But in 2020, we’re seeing a record low number of 61 total flu cases reported in the same time period. It doesn’t take a medical degree to come to the logical conclusion that the flu didn’t suddenly disappear but that it’s simply being misdiagnosed as COVID-19.
There are two most likely scenarios causing this. The first is nefarious: doctors and hospitals are misdiagnosing on purpose. Whether for political or financial reasons, medical professionals are reporting flu cases as COVID-19. The second and more likely scenario is that people who have been infected with COVID-19 and did not see symptoms were subsequently infected with the flu and then went to the doctor. They were tested and since they had both viruses in their system, they were reported as the higher-paying COVID-19 diagnosis.
On the Ingraham Angle last night, Laura Ingraham and Phil Kerpen discussed this trend and pointed to the likelihood that the flu isn’t really gone, but COVID-19 numbers are more politically and financially expedient to report.