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.
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