Monday, March 16, 2020

UPDATED: It's The Middle Of Summer In Oz!

Why should we care? Here's why:

Eric Feigl-Ding
Why should we all care & deeply worry about New South Wales, Australia‘s 171 #COVID19 cases? Because it is the MIDDLE OF SUMMER THERE!!! This virus will not be die out when summer comes to Northern Hemisphere. Forget that fantasy. We are stuck with it until vaccine arrives! Eric Feigl-Ding, Epidemiologist / Health Economist / Senior Fellow @FAScientists / V.Scientist @Harvard
11:53 PM · Mar 15, 2020

On another epidemiological note, earlier this week I did some research on flu vaccination in the US. After all, we hear about the many millions of flu cases, and the tens of thousands of flu deaths every year that are supposed to be quite tolerable. The costs of preventing this would outweigh any imagined benefits. I say 'imagined' benefits because the apparently official Liberal position is that keeping people alive past 75 is not a benefit--unless they're a Dem running for President.


What I found was interesting.

Among the highest at risk demographic--those over 65--the flu vaccination rate hit 68%. That means that among those at by far the greatest risk of dying from the flu, fully one-third didn't bother being vaccinated.

Among children under 5 the vaccination rate reaches 70%, probably because those children are more likely to receive a regular checkup with a pediatrician.

However, in the great middle ground of 5-65 the vaccination rate tops out around 47%. That includes the vast majority of working people and younger people in schools.

Is it any wonder that flu is so widespread, year after year, in the US? Wouldn't the country be better off with near universal vaccination?

Not surprisingly, studies on the economic burden of the flu have been done, such as this one: Economic burden of seasonal influenza in the United States. Frankly, I was a bit surprised that the total cost wasn't higher. Here are the results, reformatted:

The estimated average annual total economic burden of influenza to the healthcare system and society was $11.2 billion ($6.3-$25.3 billion). Direct medical costs were estimated to be $3.2 billion ($1.5-$11.7 billion) and indirect costs $8.0 billion ($4.8-$13.6 billion). These total costs were based on the estimated average numbers of  
(1) ill-non medically attended patients (21.6 million),
(2) office-based outpatient visits (3.7 million),
(3) emergency department visit (0.65 million)
(4) hospitalizations (247.0 thousand),
(5) deaths (36.3 thousand) and
(6) days of productivity lost (20.1 million).

Bear in mind that these average statistics reflect a "flu season" that runs from September to May. The Covid-19 outbreak has been concentrated within a much narrower time frame--so far. It may well become endemic, like the flu.

UPDATE: What happens with the flu during warm weather? And Why We Shouldn’t Hope COVID-19 Is Seasonal Like The Flu

It's an informative discussion that brings in the example of SARS--important, because Covid-19 is a SARS-like virus. BTW, SARS infected people tend to show symptoms right away, so that's a help for public health people.


  1. I don't remember where I saw it, probably several places, but supposedly the flu vaccine for the 2018-2019 flu season was very ineffective because somebody guessed at the wrong flu type. Also, this season's flu vaccine is supposed to be about 50% effective.

    If we want people to be more serious about getting flu shots, they should be (1) more effective, and (2) cause far less discomfort.

    FYI, I'm 77 and had my one and only flu shot around 1973. Also had my one and only case of flu that same season, and it was a bad case. I know I'm at risk, but it's really a choice of risks, and I chose (perhaps poorly) this one.

    1. Actually, this year--in January--I had the first flu shot that I can recall. I may have had one, just one, many, many years ago, but I'm not certain about that. One significant factor that's often left unmentioned is that much of the adult population has built up some degree of strengthened immunity to the flu over a lifetime of exposure. This became important during the Swine Flu of 2009, when young people were heavily affected, whereas us oldies were not.

      There are too many variables involved to use comparisons between flu and Covid-19 (as 'SARS-like' virus) without great caution. However, anytime a highly transmissible virus gets loose for which the population has no real immunity built up, it's very risky to just let it run its course. Obama's Swine Fly fiasco was covered up by the media, but it was actually a serious outbreak that's still with us. And it was serious despite the fact that many had at some natural immunity.

  2. Your reporting and commentary on Covid-19 is outstanding. Thank you.

    This is a great opportunity to bring a lot of our production back home to the good ole USA.

  3. I'm behind on your blog and getting caught up. You had an entry, "Interesting Reads", posted on March 11. It's too far back in your entries for any reader to see my comments, so I'm saying them here.

    We voted on the 11th. Some of my conservative buddies encouraged me to vote Dem in an operation chaos-type manner. My wife and I talked about it.

    I told her that I decided that I was voting on the Rep ballot to make the statement that I stand with this man. What better way to show my support?

    Seems a lot of others felt the same. I'm going to watch the election night results on November 3, even if i have to take vacation leave for Wednesday, so that I can watch it all. It might be kind of mean-spirited on my part, but I want to see George, Lester, Norah, and all the other lunatics lose it. The cognitive dissonance will be great.

  4. From American Thinker about how Obama was covered versus today and President Trump.

    Remember the H1N1 Pandemic? I Don’t Either