U.S. has lowest pediatric and general population flu infection and death rates in years…it can be a problem

Flu rates for both children and adults are way down.

…and of course, it could be a problem for the next flu season.

Remember the “Twindemic” that we were all warned about last year the combination of patients with both the flu and Covid-19? Public health authorities were warning everyone that would listen that, if it happened, it would be apocalyptic in terms of our health care system being able to handle it.

Interestingly, it did not happen. Not even close, which is not to say that some patients did contract both the flu and positive Covid-19 viruses; just not anywhere close to meriting the concern that it generated.

The Centers for Disease Control are still reporting remarkably low flu activity based on the latest CDC’s FluView report for the week ending March 13.

According to the CDC, the hospitalization rate for the 2020-21 flu season was just 0.7 per 100,000 people. That is the lowest it’s been since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began collecting such data in 2005. Health professionals say that measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and staying indoors likely helped hold pediatric flu deaths to just one last flu season, compared to 196 in the 2019-20 season.

Of course, there is a downside: The low levels of flu have left experts with a much smaller pool of data used for predicting which flu strains will predominate next winter, which raises the odds that the 2021-22 flu vaccine will be less effective than normal.

The CDC’s recent studies show that flu vaccination reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40% and 60% among the overall population during seasons when most circulating flu viruses are well-matched to the flu vaccine. Not the wording “well-matched.” Sometimes it is much lower. Even so, it saves millions of lives around the world every year. And its efficacy rates emphasis once again that the flu and the coronavirus are two very different things.

Other updates in the report show:

  • The percentage of visits to an outpatient provider for flu-like illness was 0.9 percent for the week ending March 13. The figure remains below the national baseline of 2.6 percent.
  • No new pediatric flu deaths were reported for the week ending March 13. In total, one pediatric flu death has been recordedfor the 2020-21 flu season. This number is much lower than other seasons, with pediatric flu deaths exceeding 140 deaths each season for the past three seasons.
  • The national flu and pneumonia mortality rate is 13.3 percent, which sits above the epidemic threshold of 7.1 percent. The majority of these deaths are attributed to COVID-19.
  • And, all states and Washington, D.C., reported minimal flu activity for the week ending March 13, the seventh consecutive week in a row nationwide flu activity has been minimal.

Public health officials, epidemiologists, and infectious disease experts can and do get things wrong. The drawback to making dire predictions with worst-case scenarios, is that it undermines the public’s already skeptical, poor, and even complete lack of understanding the science behind the predictions by infectious disease experts, epidemiologists, and public health officials, who get very little credit when they are right…and are demonized when they are wrong.

 

 

5 Responses to U.S. has lowest pediatric and general population flu infection and death rates in years…it can be a problem

  1. Lydia April 3, 2021 at 8:44 am #

    Erich, yeah it’s pretty amazing and discouraging to see the degree to which folks can distort reality to fit with what they want to believe. I don’t think the schools teach critical thinking skills anymore.

     
  2. Mono Person March 31, 2021 at 6:12 pm #

    This even rates as news?? Who cares?? Let’s get back to having a brain in your head and make your OWN decisions – I know it was a “pandemic”…

     
  3. Ron Bunce March 31, 2021 at 11:51 am #

    Maybe because many of the flu cases were counted in the COVID numbers? After all, when there financial incentives for handling COVID cases, it will skew the real numbers towards the incentives.

     
    • Charles James March 31, 2021 at 12:42 pm #

      All Covid-19 patients are tested for the flu as well. If they proved positive for the flu, it would be reported as would the positive Covid-19 results. The financial incentives for Covid-19 are real, although numerous articles from credible news and fact-checking sources have not found it to be a widespread practice. Any hospital engaging in the practice is opening itself to some serious legal criminal action. That some may still do so is almost a given. What is not a given is that it is a large scale practice among all hospitals. Even a CDC director admitted that there is a “perverse incentive” for some hospitals to choose a diagnosis that will result in a higher reimbursement payment from Medicare, for example, which pays more for some medical conditions and treatments than others.

      Like all things hospital-, medical- and insurance-related, it’s complicated. Snopes, for example, gave it a “mixed” true/false score. FactCheck.org gave a very good analysis of the topic, and found “no evidence of fraudulent reporting.”

       
      • Erich April 2, 2021 at 5:05 pm #

        I keep wondering why people like to think that the number of COVID cases is exaggerated. Who is pushing this idea? Does it allow them to be a little more confident going out in public. What is the psychology here? Are all the deaths due to flu?

         

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