The Incredible Vanishing Flu
Seasonal influenza, also known as “the flu,” visits America every year, similar to tornados, thunderstorms, heat waves, and snowstorms. As tracked by the CDC, over the past decade symptomatic flu cases ranged from 9 to 45 million cases per year in the US. Hospitalizations varied from 140 to 810 thousand, and deaths from 12 to 61 thousand, depending on the particular year, strain of influenza, and effectiveness of the vaccine.
This year, “flu activity is unusually low at this time” according to CDC surveillance. Since late September 2020, they recorded only about 2000 cases, a minute fraction of the tens of millions of cases in past years.
Hospitalizations this flu season are minimal with only 224 confirmed influenza hospitalizations from September 2020 to mid-April 202, nowhere near the hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations in past seasons.
Deaths are harder to measure since the CDC conveniently changed how deaths are characterized this past year. Instead of pneumonia, influenza, and COVID being in separate categories, now it’s called PIC, lumping the three entities together.
For children, the CDC doesn’t use PIC as COVID hospitalization or death in children is exceedingly rare, unless the child is immunocompromised. In each of the past three years, pediatric deaths ranged from 144 to 198 per year. This current flu season has seen only one single child die from the flu.
So what happened to the flu? From millions of cases to a few thousand. It would like having a winter with no snow, which despite predictions of NY Times climate experts, hasn’t come close to happening.
Perhaps the flu cases are mysteriously lost, like Hillary Clinton’s emails, Hunter Biden’s laptop, or John Durham’s sealed indictments.
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A virologist was perplexed and honest. According to the New York Times,
“We don’t really have a clue,” said Richard Webby, a virologist at the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. “We’re in uncharted territory. We haven’t had an influenza season this low, I think as long as we’ve been measuring it. So what the potential implications are is a bit unclear.”
Other than an occasional news story like the one above, the media has been rather uninterested in this fluke of science, instead wringing their paws over an election audit in Arizona or Frank Luntz and Kevin McCarthy shacking up.
As big media is too busy looking for racism hiding behind every Republican, let’s explore why the flu might have mysteriously vanished.
One theory is that public health measures for COVID eradicated the flu. Did we just now discover hygiene? Was last year the first time that Americans washed their hands and used hand sanitizer? We have always done these things. And if they worked to stop the flu, why didn’t they stop COVID?
We didn’t need Dr Fauci scolding us into isolation when sick. Those ill with the flu stayed home until better. We naturally distanced when sick. Again, if these measures, far more draconian this year, stopped the flu, why didn’t they also stop COVID?
Perhaps the flu vaccine last season was a home run, unlike the 40-60 percent effectiveness of past seasons, one year as low as 19 percent effective. In a normal flu season, the vaccination rate is between 50-60 percent. It was likely much lower last year during COVID as a flu shot was not a priority and many avoided going to the doctor unless necessary.
Maybe it was the incessant mask use, going from none to one to two to one, according to Dr Fauci’s whims. If masks worked so well, why weren’t we told to wear them every flu season, preventing tens of thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations? It is not like masks were just invented last year.
Does size matter? The influenza virus is 80-120 nanometers. COVID is similar in size, 50-140 nm. If, as we are incessantly told, masks work to save lives from COVID, then they should work similarly for influenza. Yet COVID cases are high and influenza cases are near zero. Why is that?
The pore size in standard surgical masks is 300 nm to 10,000 nm, far larger than either virus, meaning masks cannot explain the discrepancy. Masks don’t stop either virus, which is why we never masked up during past flu pandemics. Unless the masks contain a pore bouncer, letting in only COVID but telling influenza to get lost.
In addition, if masks work, why the push for the vaccine? If the vaccine works, and it does far more effectively than the flu vaccine, why are we still masked up? It can’t be both ways. Except in Congress where the few Biden speech attendees, all vaccinated, were distanced and covering their faces. Do they consider the message they are sending? Apparently not.
The NY Times article suggests previous public exposure to influenza with no previous exposure to COVID might explain things. But every year there is “previous public exposure” to influenza and every year plenty of flu cases. Until this year. As influenza occurs every year, there is always natural immunity to influenza yet there are always many cases the following year. What changed?
Could “the mere presence of the corona virus” suppress flu cases? As in the big tough Chinese alpha male coronavirus scaring away the metrosexual beta male influenza virus? Has social justice and wokeness penetrated viral capsids? Perhaps that makes sense to CNN anchors.
I’ll throw out an idea, namely testing. Perhaps COVID numbers are artificially high due to PCR cycle thresholds, as I have written about. At cycle threshold of 35-40, “up to 90 percent of people testing positive carried barely any virus” according to the NY Times, meaning most positives are false positives. Deliberately attributing accidental deaths to COVID falsely inflates the death counts.
What if influenza cases were incorrectly labeled as COVID? After all, everything now is called PIC. Perhaps the influenza numbers are much higher and COVID numbers much lower based on misclassification.
The CDC wouldn’t play numbers games like that would they? Sure they would. The CDC changed its cycle threshold for “vaccine breakthrough cases,” those cases occurring post vaccination, to 28, far below that for normal cases of 40 or higher, to reduce COVID cases numbers after the vaccine. Imagine if they had done that last year. COVID cases numbers would resemble that of a bad flu season.
The CDC was happy to let high case numbers work against President Trump last year when he was campaigning for reelection but now want to lower case numbers to favor their heralded vaccines. This is the same CDC that allowed a national teachers union to help draft school opening guidance, just as Congress lets lobbyists write legislation. Can the CDC be trusted?
The CDC director said their data, “suggests that vaccinated people do not carry the virus” yet vaccinated people are still distanced and masked. Is the CDC about public health or just another political arm of the ruling class, like the FBI and DOJ?
Are the vanishing flu cases just a numbers game, the CDC playing three-card Monte, hiding flu cases while America bets her economy on this con game, the American people coming up short and the Democrats always winning? Was it every really about the virus?
Brian C Joondeph, MD, is a physician and writer. He is on sabbatical from social media.
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