80,000 Flu Deaths Last Season? Why the CDC’s Claim Is Not Credible.

by Oct 11, 2018Health & Vaccines8 comments

Influenza A virus (CDC)

The CDC's claim that there were 80,000 flu deaths during the 2017-2018 flu season is based on a mathematical model premised on a highly dubious assumption.

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!

Read part one, “Should You Get the Flu Shot Every Year? Don’t Ask the New York Times.”

Read part two, “How the CDC Uses Fear and Deception to Sell More Flu Vaccines”.

And if you’d like to help support my independent journalism on the critically important subject of public vaccine policy:

Click here to donate!

Did you find value in this content? If so and you have the means, please consider supporting my independent journalism.

About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

By recognizing when we are being lied to and why, we can fight effectively for liberty, peace, and justice, in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity.

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8 Comments

  1. Le Fox

    “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.”

    Perhaps you can start by adding hyperlinks? But there’s an issue to this line of thinking.

    Natural exposure isn’t always foolproof, especially in large groups of people. In the case of polio or Marburg virus, natural immunity isn’t going to fight off something that virulent. If you manage to, you will be permanently crippled.

    Natural acquired immunity is achieved by suffering through the virus. I assume you are using the Group Immunity hypothesis, which only works so long as the inside group stays healthy and an outside group does not interfere. In the case of the US, new immigrants with latent tuberculosis and measles are contributing to the uptick in cases.

    I tried to find the study where vaccinated people shed more aerosols. All I got were blogs, including Natural News. I did find this: https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/59/10/1375/2895694

    And this: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0051653

    Reply
    • Jeremy R. Hammond

      Perhaps you can start by adding hyperlinks?

      Much more about how the vaccine can actually increase the risk of illness is forthcoming in part three of the series.

      Natural exposure isn’t always foolproof, especially in large groups of people. In the case of polio or Marburg virus, natural immunity isn’t going to fight off something that virulent. If you manage to, you will be permanently crippled.

      You have been grossly misinformed. Actually, before mass vaccination, the vast majority of people fought off the polio virus without even developing any symptoms.

      I assume you are using the Group Immunity hypothesis, which only works so long as the inside group stays healthy and an outside group does not interfere.

      I have never heard of “the Group Immunity hypothesis”, at least by that formal name, and your description of it makes no sense, at least inasmuch as it is intended to apply to what I wrote in the article.

      I tried to find the study where vaccinated people shed more aerosols.

      You should have started with the links I provided you. I linked this article:
      https://www.jeremyrhammond.com/2018/04/02/how-the-cdc-uses-fear-and-deception-to-sell-more-flu-vaccines/

      Where you’ll see in the contents a section titled “How the Flu Shot May Increase Viral Transmission”. There you would have found the link to the study. Here it is:

      http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/01/17/1716561115.full

      Reply
      • Le Fox

        “You have been grossly misinformed. Actually, before mass vaccination, the vast majority of people fought off the polio virus without even developing any symptoms.” – According to what? Who?

        If so, I guess I can pin the blame on Jonas Salk for infecting the American population with the virus.

        Group immunity, or herd immunity, is exactly what it says: when one individual is immune or expresses resistance to a contagious infection, other members of that group in close proximity will express the same immunity.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herd_immunity

        It can be achieved with or without vaccines. In our case, those who received vaccines, and those who did not, who expressed immunity to certain diseases passed it on to others in their community. It, however, will be threatened if an outsider group with new diseases enters the area (like the smallpox outbreaks in South America during the Spanish conquest).

        I’m not sure why you haven’t heard of this term, especially since it pops up a lot in the vaccine literature, which I’m sure you’ve read in order to write your articles.

        I already read your CDC vaccine article and the papers in them.

        The paper is interesting but notes that Influenza A variant sheds more, but vaccination with variant B has a different result. The patients also had asthma.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        “You have been grossly misinformed. Actually, before mass vaccination, the vast majority of people fought off the polio virus without even developing any symptoms.” – According to what? Who?

        According to the CDC in their Pink Book.

        It can be achieved with or without vaccines. In our case, those who received vaccines, and those who did not, who expressed immunity to certain diseases passed it on to others in their community….

        I’m not sure why you haven’t heard of this term, especially since it pops up a lot in the vaccine literature, which I’m sure you’ve read in order to write your articles.

        I am well familiar with the term “herd immunity. But you said “Group Immunity” and described something that apparently unrelated. I don’t understand what you mean, especially in the context of the flu vaccine. What is it I wrote in the article that you are relating to the concept of herd immunity, and how so?

      • Le Fox

        This is the document you are referring to:

        “Before the 18th century, polioviruses probably circulated widely. Initial infections with at least one type probably occurred in early infancy, when transplacentally acquired maternal antibodies were high. Exposure throughout life probably provided continual boosting of immunity, and paralytic infections were probably rare. (This view has been challenged based on data from lameness studies in developing countries).

        In the immediate prevaccine era, improved sanitation allowed less frequent exposure and increased the age of primary infection. Boosting of immunity from natural exposure became more infrequent and the number of susceptible persons accumulated, ultimately resulting in the occurrence of epidemics, with 13,000 to 20,000 paralytic cases reported annually.

        In the early vaccine era, the incidence dramatically decreased after the introduction of inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) in 1955. The decline continued following oral polio vaccine (OPV) introduction in 1961. In 1960, a total of 2,525 paralytic cases were reported, compared with 61 in 1965.”

        Who should I believe? The CDC source you offered, or you talking about the CDC source? The re-emergence of the virus, and multiple strains, required the use of a vaccine because natural immunity wasn’t enough. Or is that a lie?

        “I am well familiar with the term “herd immunity. But you said “Group Immunity” and described something that apparently unrelated.” – No, you told me me it was an ‘absurd’ term and you’ve never heard of it, despite it being frequent in the literature. Now you are telling me you don’t understand the reference of that, when the reference of polio clearly uses herd immunity and natural exposure and shared immunity from previously infected individuals. But that’s absurd, and does not exist.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        Who should I believe? The CDC source you offered, or you talking about the CDC source?

        You ask that as though there was some contradiction between the excerpt you’ve quoted and what I said.

        But there isn’t.

        To reiterate, you claimed that getting polio in the pre-vaccine era would result in you becoming permanently crippled. But that is false. Again, as the CDC’s Pink Book explains, the vast majority of people who were exposed to the virus never even developed symptoms.

        No, you told me me it was an ‘absurd’ term and you’ve never heard of it, despite it being frequent in the literature.

        Incorrect. I did not describe the term as “absurd”. In fact, I don’t see that I’ve used the word “absurd” anywhere in these comments until this very post, in reply to your use of it.

        What I did say was that your statement that herd immunity “only works so long as the inside group stays healthy and an outside group does not interfere” makes no sense.

        Because it doesn’t make any sense. Hence my question, which you haven’t answered, and which I will repeat: What is it I wrote in the article that you are relating to the concept of herd immunity, and how so?

      • Le Fox

        “To reiterate, you claimed that getting polio in the pre-vaccine era would result in you becoming permanently crippled. But that is false. Again, as the CDC’s Pink Book explains, the vast majority of people who were exposed to the virus never even developed symptoms.”

        The paralytic strain of polio came afterward. It also states in the Pink Book that as living standards improved, so did new cases of polio. Paralysis isn’t always a staple of polio, and the Pink Book is referring to asymptomatic victims.

        Yes, you used ‘absurd’, despite the Pink Book and your article saying that frequent exposure to pathogens increases one’s immunity. In the context of the former, this leads to polio not being as virulent as it would be. In the context of the latter, groups would become immune from low grade exposure. That was the whole point of my comment, but it was just ‘absurd’ and ‘ridiculous’.

      • Jeremy R. Hammond

        The paralytic strain of polio came afterward.

        That statement makes zero sense.

        Once again, you claimed that getting polio in the pre-vaccine era would result in you becoming permanently crippled, but that is false. Once again, the vast majority of people exposed to the virus never even developed symptoms.

        Do you understand?

        Yes, you used ‘absurd’, despite the Pink Book and your article saying that frequent exposure to pathogens increases one’s immunity.

        Once again, you are incorrect. Anyone can open up all the comments on this page and do a Ctrl+F search and see that the first use of the word “absurd” in the comments was your own.

        What I did say was that your statement that herd immunity “only works so long as the inside group stays healthy and an outside group does not interfere” makes no sense. Because it doesn’t make any sense.

        Hence my question, which you still haven’t answered, and which I will repeat: What is it I wrote in the article that you are relating to the concept of herd immunity, and how so?

        You also add, “… despite the Pink Book and your article saying that frequent exposure to pathogens increases one’s immunity” as though something I wrote suggested otherwise. But nothing I wrote suggested that frequent exposure does not boost immunity.

        Once again, you are simply making no sense. Please produce a coherent argument or stop wasting my time.

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