With COVID-19 still making the headlines, the flu (influenza) has been remarkable in its absence, especially during what is typically peak flu season. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks deaths from influenza and pneumonia weekly through the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Reporting System.
It also creates a preliminary estimate of the burden of seasonal influenza, based on crude laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalization rates. These estimates are meant to give an idea of how many people have been ill or died from the flu in any given season – that is, except for 2020.
“On April 4, 2020, last week, preliminary season burden estimates were provided,” the CDC wrote on its 2019-20 U.S. flu season webpage.1 The reason the estimates stopped in April is that influenza cases have fallen so low they’re hardly worth tracking. In an update released on December 3, 2020, the CDC said:2
“The model used to generate preliminary estimates of the influenza burden during the season uses hospitalization data from the current season. Reported influenza hospitalizations are too low at this time to generate an estimate. “
They also added, “The number of hospitalizations estimated so far this season is lower than the estimates of total end-of-season hospitalizations for any season since the CDC began making those estimates.”3
Flu deaths drop as COVID cases rise
In late summer 2020, warnings surfaced that there may soon be a ‘twin’ of influenza and COVID-19 decimating the globe.4 So far, this has not happened. In the United States, the CDC has reported that the percentage of respiratory samples tested for influenza that tested positive has increased from more than 20% to 2.3% since the start of the pandemic.
As of September 18, 2020, they noted that positive influenza tests had “remained at historically low interseasonal levels (0.2% vs. 1-2%).”5 Additionally, from September 29, 2019 to February 29, 2020 to March 1 to May 16, 2020, the CDC noted a 98% decrease in influenza activity.6
Similar declines have been seen around the world, including in the southern hemisphere countries of Australia, Chile and southern Africa, which often serve as sentinels for influenza activity in the United States.
All three areas had very low influenza activity from June to August 2020, which is their peak influenza season. From April to July 2020, only 33 positive influenza test results were detected in Australia; 12 in Chile; and six in South Africa, for a total of 51 positive tests. For comparison, between April and July of 2017 to 2019, 24,512 samples tested positive for influenza.seven
The sharp drops in influenza activity were initially thought to be due to a decrease in testing, as people with respiratory symptoms likely received COVID-19 tests instead. However, according to the CDC, public health officials have made a concerted effort to test for influenza, and even though “adequate numbers” have been tested, little or no influenza virus has been detected.
In Australia, meanwhile, they have tested “significantly more flu samples” this season than usual, but have still detected very few cases of the flu.8 So what happened to the flu?
CDC tracking combines deaths from COVID, flu and pneumonia
The “COVID” deaths the CDC has reported are actually a combination of pneumonia, influenza, and COVID deaths, in a new category listed as “PIC” (pneumonia, influenza, COVID).
Their COVIDView webpage, which provides a weekly summary of monitoring COVID-19 activity in the United States, reports that the levels of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, and “related diseases Have increased since September 2020, while the percentage of deaths from pneumonia, influenza and COVID-19 has been on the rise since October.9
As Professor William M. Briggs, statistical consultant and policy adviser at the Heartland Institute, a free market think tank, notes in the video above, “The CDC, until about July 2020, was counting deaths separately. due to flu and pneumonia, this forever, then stopped mysteriously… It became very difficult to tell the difference between these, ”referring to the combined monitoring of deaths from“ ICP ”. They even use PIC to declare that cases are above the epidemic threshold:ten
“Based on the death certificate data, the percentage of deaths attributed to ICP for week 49 was 14.3% and remains above the epidemic threshold.
Weekly percentages of deaths from ICP increased for seven weeks from early October to mid-November and are expected to increase in recent weeks as more data becomes available. Hospitalization rates for the most recent week are also expected to increase as more data becomes available. “
Have masks and locks stopped the spread of the flu?
It might appear that the flu hasn’t just vanished into thin air, but cases could be mistaken for COVID-19 – or even intentionally mislabeled as such. Another theory focuses on viral interference, which is the phenomenon in which a cell infected with one virus becomes resistant to other viruses;11 basically cells are rarely infected with more than one virus, so COVID-19 could outweigh the flu.
However, since COVID-19 is such a new virus, only a minority of the population has been exposed, there should still be plenty of room for the flu to spread.12
According to the CDC, however, influenza cases have started to decline in response to “widespread adoption of community-based mitigation measures to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.” In other words, they believe influenza cases have dropped due to the widespread adoption of masks, social distancing and interlocks.
In their MMWR weekly report released on September 18, 2020, they state, “In the United States, the circulation of the influenza virus has declined sharply within 2 weeks of the COVID-19 declaration of emergency and widespread implementation. community mitigation measures, including school closures, social distancing, and mask wear, though the exact timing will vary by location. “13
But then again, this leaves many questions unanswered, the main one being why, if COVID-19 mitigation efforts are so effective against the spread of influenza, are COVID cases continuing to rise? The two viruses are spread in essentially the same way. As Irish science journalist Peter Andrews said in RT:14
“The scientific establishment is rapidly forming ranks behind the theory that the flu is gone because of Covid restrictions – especially masks, social distancing and lockdowns.
They “overwhelmingly agree” that this is so; their certainty is remarkable at this early stage. But why would these measures have worked so unintentionally well for the flu, which has been around for millennia, but Covid cases continue to skyrocket? Do masks let one particle pass and stop another?
Supporters of this theory have an explanation. They claim that people with Covid are more contagious than those with the flu. It has a longer “incubation period” than influenza and its “R-rate” is three times that of influenza. But even if all of these estimates were correct, the question remains unanswered why the flu would have been eradicated so completely.
When asked if he thinks the lockdowns were responsible for eliminating the flu, Briggs replied in the video, “No, absolutely not. Lockdowns only help spread the flu… Locking down healthy people, quarantining healthy people, is absurd. Briggs believes the lockdowns would only increase the flu infection as the virus spreads more easily when people spend more time indoors, working closely with others, by dry indoor air.
He also pointed out lock failures, like the one that happened in New York. The death rate from COVID-19 exceeded 50 deaths per million per day in April 2020, despite a full lockdown put in place in March. The state ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients from hospitals until May 10, when the order was rescinded, but by then the virus was already ravaging residents elderly nursing homes – the most vulnerable.
“By facilitating the transmission of the virus from hospitals to nursing homes, the rate of spread within the elderly population was maximized, and any possible benefit of locking out the young and healthy population became moot,” Dr Gilbert Berdine, associate professor of medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, explained.15
Social distances and masks to stay to fight against the flu?
The CDC is already using the mysteriously low number of flu cases this season as an impetus to suggest that masks, school closures, and social distancing could become the new normal every fall to fight the flu season ahead:
“If broad community-based mitigation measures continue throughout the fall, influenza activity in the United States could remain low and the season could be dull or delayed. In the future, some of these community-based mitigation measures could be implemented during influenza epidemics to reduce transmission, especially in populations most at risk of developing serious illness or complications.16
Meanwhile, even saying that flu cases are almost non-existent this season and that the COVID-19 mitigation measures already in place are likely effective in stopping its spread – they still want you to get your flu shot. , “Especially this season”:17
“Given the novelty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of continued community-based mitigation actions, it is important to plan for the flow of seasonal influenza in the United States this fall and winter. Influenza vaccination of all people ≥ 6 months of age remains the best method of preventing influenza and is especially important this season when SARS-CoV-2 and the influenza virus may be co-circulating. “
If you want to be proactive, remember that influenza vaccines are controversialand your chances of getting the flu after vaccination are always over 50/50 in any given year.
According to CDC data, for example, the effectiveness of the 2017-2018 seasonal influenza vaccine against “influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated with medically treated acute respiratory disease” was not effective. than 36%.18 In the meantime, we already know that vitamin D optimization is a good idea, not just for COVID-19