On September 27, the CDC issued the claim at a press conference that 80,000 people died from the flu during the 2017 – 2018 flu season.
This claim has been parroted to the public by the mainstream media as though fact. But what neither the CDC nor the MSM will tell you is that the number “80,000” does not come from surveillance or death certificate data of deaths determined to be associated with laboratory confirmed influenza.
Rather, this number is a preliminary estimate made by “adjusting” the actual reported numbers. To “adjust” the numbers, the CDC multiplies lab-confirmed cases on the basis of certain assumptions.
As I have previously written, to determine the multiplier, the CDC makes a number of assumptions to estimate (a) the likelihood that a person hospitalized for any respiratory illness would be tested for influenza and (b) the likelihood that a person with influenza would test positive.
Once the CDC has its estimated hospitalization rate, it then multiplies that number by the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations to arrive at its estimated mortality rate. Thus, any overestimation of the hospitalization rate is compounded in its estimated death rate.
The number of “80,000” the CDC is claiming as the number of flu deaths is based not on reported flu deaths, but on a mathematical model built on the highly dubious assumption that the percentage of people who (a) are hospitalized for respiratory illness and have the flu is the same as (b) the percentage of people who are hospitalized for respiratory illness, are actually tested, and test positive.
This implies that doctors are not more likely to seek lab confirmation for people who actually have influenza than they are for people whose respiratory symptoms are due to some other cause.
Assuming that doctors can do better than a pair of rolled dice at picking out patients with influenza, it further implies that doctors are no more likely to order a lab test for patients whom they suspect of having the flu than they are to order a lab test for patients whose respiratory symptoms they think are caused by something else.
The CDC’s assumption thus introduces a selection bias into its model that further calls into question the plausibility of its conclusions, as it is bound to result in overestimation of both hospitalizations and deaths associated with influenza.
In fact, CDC researchers have acknowledged that, “If physicians were more likely to recognize influenza patients clinically and select those patients for testing, we may have over-estimated the magnitude of under-detection.”
Of course, the “we may have” statement there is nonsense. If doctors are more likely to order lab testing to confirm influenza infection for patients with influenza than patients hospitalized for some other respiratory illness, then the CDC has overestimated flu hospitalizations and deaths. Period. Not “may have”. Definitely has.
I mentioned that the “80,000” number comes from a preliminary estimate. This is done because it takes two or three years before the data to be available to use the usual method to estimate what the media relay matter-of-factly as “flu deaths”. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are faced with fearmongering information from the CDC and mainstream media:
- The CDC’s model groups influenza deaths with pneumonia deaths and treats this combined total as a “lower bound” for influenza-associated deaths, even though most cases of pneumonia are not associated with influenza infection.
- Furthermore, only about 7% to 15% of what are “influenza-like illnesses” are actually caused by influenza viruses.
- There are over 200 known viruses that cause influenza-like illnesses, while the vaccine is designed to offer protection against only three or four strains of influenza (depending on whether it’s a “trivalent” or “quadrivalent” vaccine).
- While the CDC in its public relations messaging and the mainstream media report the CDC’s numbers as though uncontroversial and as though representative of known influenza-caused deaths, in truth they are rather controversial estimates of influenza-associated deaths. As William Thompson of the CDC’s National Immunization Program once acknowledged, “Based on modelling, we think it’s associated. I don’t know that we would say that it’s the underlying cause of death.” (That’s false, of course, in the sense that the CDC does claim matter-of-factly that influenza is the underlying cause of death when it relays its estimates to the public. In other words, the CDC flat out lies, and the mainstream media broadcast the lie to the public to persuade them to line up for a flu shot.)
- In contrast to the CDC’s claimed numbers, the average number deaths each year for which the cause is actually attributed on death certificates to influenza is little more than 1,000.
- CDC researchers have acknowledged that even this low number may be an overestimate as lab confirmation of influenza infection is not always obtained, writing in the American Journal of Public Health that “simply counting deaths for which influenza has been coded as the underlying cause on death certificates can lead to both over- and underestimates of the magnitude of influenza-associated mortality.”
- The two primary justifications for the CDC’s universal influenza vaccine recommendation are that vaccination 1) reduces transmission of the virus and 2) reduces the risk of potentially deadly complications. Cochrane reviews of the scientific literature, however, have determined that both of these claims are unsupported by scientific evidence.
- A study from earlier this year showed that, contrary to the CDC’s assumption, vaccinated individuals shed over 6 times as much aerosolized virus as unvaccinated individuals.
- A growing body of scientific evidence has shown that repeated annual influenza vaccination can actually impair the immune system’s ability to fight off influenza infections. There is an opportunity cost to vaccination, which is the lost naturally acquired immunity that would otherwise be conferred in the event of exposure to influenza viruses. While natural immunity protects against not only the infecting strain, but also other strains (and possibly even against non-influenza viruses), the vaccine offers no such benefit.
For much more about how the CDC deceives the public about the numbers of flu deaths annually, read my article “How the CDC Uses Fear Marketing to Increase Demand for Flu Vaccines” in Foreign Policy Journal.
That article is an expanded excerpt from the second installation of a four-part series I’m working on exposing how the government and media systematically deceive the public about the safety and effectiveness of the influenza vaccine. It goes well beyond the issue of the CDC’s flu deaths estimates, so be sure to read it, too!
And if you’d like to help support my independent journalism on the critically important subject of public vaccine policy: