COVID-19 dominates the headlines, while influenza (flu) has been conspicuous in its absence, especially during what is typically peak flu season.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks flu and pneumonia deaths weekly through the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) Mortality Reporting System.
It also creates a preliminary estimate of the burden of seasonal flu, based on crude rates of lab-confirmed flu hospitalizations.
Such estimates are intended to give an idea of how many people have been sick from or died from the flu in any given season, that is, except for Y 2020.
- The CDC reported that the percentage of respiratory specimens submitted for influenza (flu) testing that test positive decreased from greater than 20% to 2.3% since the start of the COVID-19 chaos
- As of 18 September 2020, they noted that positive influenza tests have remained at historically low interseasonal levels; 0.2% Vs 1 to 2%”
- Similar declines have been observed worldwide, including in the Southern Hemisphere countries of Australia, Chile and Southern Africa, which often serve as sentinels for influenza activity in the US
- The “COVID” deaths the CDC has been reporting are actually a combination of pneumonia, flu and COVID-deaths, under a new category listed as “PIC” (pneumonia, Influenza, COVID)
- It could appear that flu has not just vanished but rather cases could be being mistaken for COVID-19
- According to the CDC, flu cases began to decline in response to “widespread adoption of community mitigation measures to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2,” but the Big Q is: Why do such measures work to eradicate flu while COVID-19 continues to rise?
On 4 April 2020 the end of the flu season the CDC said, “The reason the flu estimates stopped in April is because flu cases plummeted so low that they’re hardly worth tracking. In an update posted December 3, 2020.”
Meanwhile, even while stating that flu cases are next to nonexistent this season, and that the COVID-19 mitigation measures already in place are likely effective at curbing its spread.
They still want you to get your flu shot, “especially this season”: “Given the novelty of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of continued community mitigation measures, it is important to plan for seasonal influenza circulation in the United States this Fall and Winter. Influenza vaccination of all persons aged 6 months and up remains the best method for influenza prevention and is especially important this season when SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus might cocirculate.”
It is worth remembering that flu shots are controversial, and your chances of getting influenza after vaccination are still greater than 50/50 in any given year. Happily, I have never had the flu or a flu shot and I have been certified as COVID immune.
Have a healthy, Happy Christmas Week, Keep the Faith!