Food for thought: COVID up, flu WAY down

Eacaraxe

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So, COVID and its new variants are the big news right now, along with continued government inaction (and some would say, refusal to act). Totally understandable. But, I'd like to draw your attention to this:


The short story on this is due to COVID precautions, we're having the cold, cough, and flu season that isn't. Masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene and sanitation have all but stopped it. The approximately 40,000 Americans who die on average to flu every year, aren't dying of flu this year (granted they're probably dying of COVID instead, but bear with me) and that's something that really ought to be paid heed.

We didn't consider 40,000 Americans every year to flu a big deal. I mean after all, flu has less than a 1% mortality rate, and almost all of those mortalities are attributed to those with comorbidities. Kind of like COVID when one thinks about it, right? But more importantly, this year's lack of a cold/flu season demonstrates how those deaths are preventable. It's hardly the least predictable secondary consequence of current anti-COVID measures in the world, but the dearth of its mention right now is honestly pretty interesting.

Because...what do we do post-COVID? Do we learn from past mistakes and actually maintain practices that limit infectious disease spread during cold and flu season, or do we go right back to coughing and rubbing up on one another with unwashed hands, sharing unsanitized goods and supplies, and other nasty-ass old, bad, habits that enabled the spread of communicable diseases?
 
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MrCalavera

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Fully agreed, but i doubt masking in the west will last.
People were pissed about this minimal degree of consideration when we were at peak pandemic, it'll be hard to convince them to stick with masks once we reach "safe" vaccination treshold.

Kudos for anyone who despite ridicule, decides to wear a mask for job/public gatherings from now on, when they feel ill.
 
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ObsidianJones

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The short answer is that social media and pundits that have arisen from it, unshackled by the FCC and Decency laws, are now permitted to fill the minds of the more... susceptible sort with any amount of triggering tripe that will make them feel smarter than the rest of us, and have them lash out as a form of rebellion. You don't have intelligent positions any more. You don't even have innocent before proven guilty. You are always presented with the truth by someone you like who happens to say all the things you felt deep in your heart but were afraid to say it.

You don't care about others, because if they fall, it was due to their own ignorance. Or it wasn't due to what they don't believe in, because that's just made up.

Here in Florida, there's a grocery store who is bucking Masks strictly due to said grocery store owner knowing more than all the collective medical consensus of this Earth.


The store's owner, Alfie Oakes, could not be reached for comment on Thursday. He told NBC's "TODAY" show he knows masks do not work and doesn't believe the coronavirus has killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States.

"That's total hogwash," Oakes said, later adding, "Why don't we shut the world down because of the heart attacks? Why don't we lock down cities because of heart attacks?"

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly stated that masks and social distancing can help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

According to NBC News' latest data, the total number of deaths in the country climbed to more than 452,000, with Florida having the fourth-highest number of fatalities.
Because Heart Attacks aren't communicable, you learned individual.

Everything is here to stay. Pollution, Racism, Any and all diseases. Social Media and the death of Reasoned and Educated Thought will make sure of that.
 

crimson5pheonix

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That reminds me of a discussion that happened elsewhere where an old image was brought up to meme at it.



We all laughed at how stupid it looks here in 2020/21 and someone did some digging into what this index was testing for that they could come to this conclusion.


Turns out they were looking for richly detailed and voluminous plans and detailed responses to a platonic pandemic event. My first thought went to southeast Asia and how it's a sea of orange and laughed. I'm sure when the pandemic started some Japanese health minister, for example, went on TV and told people to wear a mask and keep apart, then the Japanese people probably did so reflexively. They probably don't have a huge volume on pandemic response because their response is mostly going to be dealing with their less hygienic neighbors.

There is not a single pandemic response that isn't going to start with basic civic mindedness that starts at the cultural level, and something else that's missing from the conversation is how mild the flu season has been historically in countries that currently have COVID deaths hovering around the triple digits if even.
 
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Seanchaidh

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People were pissed about this minimal degree of consideration when we were at peak pandemic
The United States had its highest seven day average of daily death tolls right at the end of this last January. And the highest daily total on Feb. 4. I don't think we've reached peak pandemic in the United States yet. Must be nice in Poland?
 

Dirty Hipsters

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I think part of it may be flu cases being misdiagnosed as covid-19 cases.

Flu symptoms and covid symptoms are fairly similar in people who get the more mild version of covid-19, and covid tests haven't been super accurate (at least in the US).
 

Agema

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That reminds me of a discussion that happened elsewhere where an old image was brought up to meme at it.

We all laughed at how stupid it looks here in 2020/21 and someone did some digging into what this index was testing for that they could come to this conclusion.
Yep.

The idea is that there are institutions ready to step into action quickly in response. The USA and UK have such agencies and systems - and actually in practice those agencies and systems clicked into gear and arguably did a good job.

However, what I think is clear is that these systems cannot make up for morons running the government who still have to orchestrate a response, nor can they take into account lacksadaisical and narcissistically self-absorbed individuals who see basic precautions as an affront to their dignity.

Another big advantage that the Far East also had was experience: they had SARS back in the early 2000s, so most of the population already knew the drill.

The United States had its highest seven day average of daily death tolls right at the end of this last January. And the highest daily total on Feb. 4. I don't think we've reached peak pandemic in the United States yet. Must be nice in Poland?
Although there isn't a consistent and direct relationship between positive tests and death (obviously early on there was not enough testing capacity), broadly you can clearly see that hospitalisations and fatalities follow trends in positive cases reliably. Fatalities basically follow the trend in cases by about 14 days. Cases peaked in the USA early-mid Jan, from which we would expect a peak in fatalities at the end of Jan, and so it was: they are now declining. Daily cases have since declined by half, so I would expect the deaths to likewise decline to about half the late Jan peak by the 20th Feb (~1500-2000 a day).

The 5000 figure is clearly a statistical blip. If you check the results on Google state by state, take a look at Indiana: it's reporting about 50-100 a day, and then suddenly records over 1500 on 4th Feb. Obviously, 1500 people didn't die in Indiana of covid in one day: the government must have done some form of internal check and realised they'd missed those cases from the ongoing state totals over the last however long (potentially months), and just added them all in on that day.
 

Kwak

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I think part of it may be flu cases being misdiagnosed as covid-19 cases.

Flu symptoms and covid symptoms are fairly similar in people who get the more mild version of covid-19, and covid tests haven't been super accurate (at least in the US).
Not really....

"There are two main types of tests — a swab or a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and an antibody test (here) (here) .

A swab test is used to diagnose whether a person has COVID-19 currently. Antibody tests to detect if someone has been infected by the novel coronavirus are being used by scientists to learn more about how many people have had the infection. They are not widely available in Britain (here) .

Scientists say the swab tests are specially designed to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.


These tests, which work by detecting the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, (here) are “very specific, said Dr Rob Shorten, Chair of Microbiology Committee, Association for Clinical Biochemistry & Laboratory Medicine.

“The specific nature of these sequences means that someone with flu or a common cold virus is highly unlikely to test positive for COVID-19,” he told Reuters.

“The Covid PCR test has pretty good specificity and sensitivity so it’s not that much of a problem. The test is more likely to throw a false negative than it is a false positive,” Dr Joshua Moon, research fellow in the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex Business School, said.

However, the antibody tests, which determine if a person has had virus, can sometimes pick up other seasonal coronaviruses.


“People are seeing some cross-reactivity in antibody tests,” said Dr Mike Skinner, Reader in Virology in the Department of Infectious Disease, Imperial College London. He said only about 20% of colds are caused by the seasonal coronaviruses, and the rest by rhinoviruses.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that antibody test results should not be used to diagnose someone with an active infection (here) ."
 

MrCalavera

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The United States had its highest seven day average of daily death tolls right at the end of this last January. And the highest daily total on Feb. 4. I don't think we've reached peak pandemic in the United States yet. Must be nice in Poland?
I wouldn't describe it as "nice". The gov almost utterly screwed the response to 2nd wave, which resulted in lots of easily preventable deaths.
We do seem to be past the worst peak *fingers crossed* though, with vaccines rolling in, and state officials doing the bare minimum and not buying into anti-mask/hoax propaganda. But i'm afraid, as things will start looking better, simple carelessness will take over again.
 

Thaluikhain

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The idea is that there are institutions ready to step into action quickly in response. The USA and UK have such agencies and systems - and actually in practice those agencies and systems clicked into gear and arguably did a good job.
I'm led to believe that in 2016(?) the UK did a study to see how well they'd do in a pandemic, found they'd be overwhelmed, recommended not gutting the NHS but nobody cared and they continued doing it anyway. Don't have a source for that at the mo, but doesn't seem out of character.
 

Gethsemani

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It is not that easy and I have two points I want to make to show why:

1. With infectious diseases displacement is a thing. The more contagious disease will out compete the less contagious diseases, making the others less common for a while. This is especially true if the infectious disease is lethal, since it will be killing off the people that might otherwise get bad reactions to other diseases. This is essentially what we are seeing now with Covid-19 and the flu, Covid is more contagious then the flu and more virulent so it is pushing the flu out of the picture.

2. We can probably reduce flu deaths after the pandemic is over, but at what cost? By keeping current restrictions on travel, meeting and enforced sick leave? Do we really want to maintain a society in which we must stay at home with a runny nose? A society in which we can never see more then 8 people at a time? A society in which you must use a face mask every time you leave your home and go to see other people? We might see a decrease in the flu, calici viruses and other recurring infectious diseases simply because people have learned to wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing etc., but the big mitigators are not face masks and hand sanitizers, it is the societal lockdown and restrictions on personal freedom.
 

Phoenixmgs

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The most likely cause of flu not being around is viral interference.



The United States had its highest seven day average of daily death tolls right at the end of this last January. And the highest daily total on Feb. 4. I don't think we've reached peak pandemic in the United States yet. Must be nice in Poland?
Cases and hospitalizations have dipped quite a bit since early January, deaths always lag behind.
 

Agema

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I'm led to believe that in 2016(?) the UK did a study to see how well they'd do in a pandemic, found they'd be overwhelmed, recommended not gutting the NHS but nobody cared and they continued doing it anyway. Don't have a source for that at the mo, but doesn't seem out of character.
Yep, the NHS has been run down with very little spare capacity. The Tories bang this constant drum about "efficiency" and complain about wasteful public spending: but the reality of ensuring there is only the bare minimum is that when more is required, there's little to give and expansion is difficult at short notice.

However, the UK did in some ways do some things very well. For instance, it's very well set up for research: and indeed many of the important early studies on covid-19 treatment were done via the NHS. The best treatment for covid-19 are steroids, and probably the most important trial that identified this came from this system. Similarly the UK got vaccines researched, approved and rolled out very quickly. However, this counts for relatively little when the government fundamentally puts money ahead of the lives of its citizens.
 

Thaluikhain

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We might see a decrease in the flu, calici viruses and other recurring infectious diseases simply because people have learned to wash their hands, cover their mouth and nose when sneezing etc.
I'd be surprised if lots of people didn't stop doing that after the pandemic ends and the campaign to remind people of the blatantly obvious benefits of basic hygiene dies down. Anyone who didn't do so before the pandemic is not someone I'd trust to do so afterwards.
 

Seanchaidh

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Oh look, 100 were quarantined because 7 tested positive, and all of them were infected outside of school.

Your fearmongering isn't very good if I can just read the article.
My point doesn't require fearmongering or for you to not read the article; we're opening up again, people are still being infected.

Nevertheless, your comment is revealing.
 
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tstorm823

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My point doesn't require fearmongering or for you to not read the article; we're opening up again, people are still being infected.
Are you seriously expecting to close down schools for as long as covid-19 isn't eradicated? You understand, health experts have been pushing for school openings for months, for the health of the students, and its the educators who have been pushing back.
 

The Rogue Wolf

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...and its the educators who have been pushing back.
The educators, who are usually older and less healthy, are afraid of contracting a disease that is highly successful at killing people who are older and less healthy? Selfish bastards! They should be willing to die for the kids! That's what we pay them a pittance of salary for!
 

tstorm823

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The educators, who are usually older and less healthy, are afraid of contracting a disease that is highly successful at killing people who are older and less healthy? Selfish bastards! They should be willing to die for the kids! That's what we pay them a pittance of salary for!
Then quit. If you're irrationally afraid of contact with children despite the urging of epidemiologists, quit. Schools don't exist for the benefit of teachers.