Where did the seasonal flu go?

Blog post by Marica Micallef

Various foreign news portals have quoted statistics comparing the number of cases of the seasonal flu pre-covid and during covid. For example, Maine officials have reported 85% fewer flu cases in the 2021 season than in previous years. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has even reported no deaths due to influenza, pneumonia, or other related illnesses. Whereas by January 2021, Maine usually witnessed an average of 547 flu cases and 76 hospitalizations, only 80 cases were reported statewide between 9th October 2020 and 9th January 2021.

On a larger scale, Fox News channel has compared the number of flu cases of 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 in the United States. Whereas in the first timeframe the number of cases reported is 38,000,000, in the second timeframe the number of cases reported is 1,822!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported that it had logged 1,316 positive flu cases in its surveillance network between September 2020 and the end of January 2021. During that same period last year, the CDC had recorded nearly 130,000 cases.

Why was there this plummet in flu cases? Why this sharp drop?

Whereas Stephen Kissler, a research fellow in the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, attributed this to the flu vaccine, distancing and mask-wearing, also suggesting that wearing masks in the future could be an effective way of helping control flu outbreaks, adding that “Wearing masks in the wintertime, I think it’s something that might be here to stay”. I stand to counter-argue this by reminding the nations that had flu vaccines really worked in the past, then the world would have witnessed this sharp drop in the past. Also, if masks truly work, then we would have a sharp drop in Covid cases, hospitalisations, and deaths.

Isn’t this plummet in flu cases simply because Covid has replaced the normal flu? Haven’t we seen, repeatedly, that this virus is as dangerous as the seasonal flu, regardless of whether it is a new virus or whether we are simply dealing with a new form of influenza renamed Covid-19 pandemic?

Didn’t our local health authorities, in the beginning, tell us that Covid-19 symptoms are similar to the flu, ranging from headaches to coughs to loss of taste and other symptoms which should not be alarming? Therefore, it is right to conclude that this year’s influenza cases ended up being masked and included with the Covid-19 numbers? Wasn’t this a psychological warfare on the public so that, with the first symptoms of the flu, they are driven to do the swab test, thinking that they might be suffering from Covid-19, where instead, they would be just suffering from a severe seasonal flu?

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