With COVID-19 still dominating headlines, influenza (flu) has been conspicuous in its absence, especially during what is typically peak flu season. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks influenza (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 2020.
4, 2020, was the last week in-season preliminary burden estimates were
provided,” the CDC wrote on its 2019-2020 U.S. flu season webpage. The
reason the estimates stopped in April is because flu cases plummeted so low
that they’re hardly worth tracking. In an update posted December 3, 2020, the
also added, “The number of hospitalizations estimated so far this season is
lower than end-of-season total hospitalization estimates for any season since
CDC began making these estimates.”
late summer 2020, warnings surfaced that there might soon be a “twin-demic” of
flu and COVID-19 that would decimate the globe. So far, this
hasn’t panned out. In the U.S., the CDC reported that the percentage of
respiratory specimens submitted for influenza testing that test positive decreased from greater than 20%
to 2.3% since the start of the pandemic.
September 18, 2020, they noted that positive influenza tests have “remained at
historically low interseasonal levels (0.2% versus 1 to 2%).” Further,
from September 29, 2019-February 29, 2020 to March 1-May 16, 2020, the CDC
noted a 98% decrease in influenza activity.
Similar drops 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 U.S.
All three areas had very low influenza activity during June to August 2020, which is their peak flu season. From April to July 2020, only 33 influenza positive test results were detected in Australia; 12 in Chile; and six in South Africa, for a total of 51 positive tests. For comparison, during April to July in 2017 to 2019, 24,512 specimens tested positive for influenza.
was initially thought that the steep drops in influenza activity were due to
decreased testing, since 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 flu, and even though “adequate
numbers” have been tested, little to no flu virus has been detected.
Australia, meanwhile, they tested “markedly more specimens for influenza” this
season than usual, yet still detected very few cases of flu. So what
happened to the flu?
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,
COVIDView webpage, which provides a weekly surveillance summary of U.S.
COVID-19 activity, states that levels of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes
COVID-19, and “associated illnesses” have been increasing since September 2020,
while the percentage of deaths due to pneumonia, flu and COVID-19 has been on
the rise since October.
noted by professor William M. Briggs, a statistical consultant and policy
adviser at the Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank, in the video
above, “CDC, up until about July 2020, counted flu and pneumonia deaths
separately, been doing this forever, then just mysteriously stopped …
It’s become very difficult to tell the difference between these,” referring to
the combined tracking of deaths from “PIC.” They’re even using PIC to state
that cases are above the epidemic threshold:
could appear that flu hasn’t just vanished into thin air but rather cases could
be being mistaken for COVID-19 — or even intentionally mislabeled as such.
Another theory centers on viral interference, which is the phenomenon in which
a cell infected by a virus becomes resistant to other viruses; basically,
cells are rarely infected with more than one virus, so COVID-19 could be
winning out over influenza.
with COVID-19 being such a novel virus, with reportedly only a minority of the
population having been exposed, there should still be plenty of room for
influenza to spread.
to the CDC, however, flu cases began to decline in response to “widespread
adoption of community mitigation measures to reduce transmission of
SARS-CoV-2.” In other words, they believe that flu cases have plummeted because
of the widespread adoption of mask wearing, social distancing and lockdowns.
their MMWR weekly report released September 18, 2020, they state, “In the
United States, influenza virus circulation declined sharply within 2 weeks of
the COVID-19 emergency declaration and widespread implementation of community
mitigation measures, including school closures, social distancing and mask
wearing, although the exact timing varied by location.”
But here again this leaves many
unanswered questions, the primary one being why, if the COVID-19
mitigation efforts are so effective against the spread of flu, are COVID cases
still rising? The two viruses are spread basically the same way. As Irish
science journalist Peter Andrews put it in RT:
asked whether he believes lockdowns were responsible for getting rid of the
flu, Briggs said in the video, “No, absolutely not. Lockdowns only help spread
the flu … Locking down the healthy, quarantining the healthy, is asinine.”
Briggs believes that lockdowns would only increase flu infection because the
virus spreads more easily when people spend more time indoors, in close
quarters with others, in dry, indoor air.
also pointed to lockdown failures, like the one that occurred
in New York City. The mortality rate from COVID-19 reached beyond 50 deaths per
million per day in April 2020, despite a full lockdown being implemented in
March. The state ordered nursing homes to accept COVID-19 positive patients
from hospitals until May 10, when the order was reversed, but by then the virus
was already ravaging nursing homes’ elderly residents — the most vulnerable.
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 from lockdown of the young and healthy population was rendered moot,”
Dr. Gilbert Berdine, an associate professor of medicine at Texas Tech
University Health Sciences Center, explained.
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 combat the upcoming flu season:
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
you want to be proactive, it’s worth remembering that flu shots are controversial, and your chances
of getting influenza after vaccination are still greater than 50/50 in any
to CDC data, for example, the 2017-2018 seasonal influenza vaccine’s
effectiveness against “influenza A and influenza B virus infection associated
with medically attended acute respiratory illness” was just 36%. Meanwhile, we already know
that vitamin D optimization is a good idea,
not only for COVID-19 but also for influenza.
- U.S. CDC, 2019-2020 U.S. Flu
Season: Preliminary In-Season Burden Estimates
- Daily Mail October 24, 2020
- MMWR September 18, 2020 / 69(37);1305–1309
- COVIDView December 11, 2020
- Ric Clin Lab. Jul-Sep 1975;5(3):196-213. doi:
- RT October 26, 2020
- Mises Institute August 15,
- CDC.gov MMWR February 16,
2018; 67(6): 180-185
© Dr. Joseph Mercola