The columns share the author’s personal perspective.
Q: Are COVID19 deaths high, and should I worry more about the flu?
A: The short answer is that COVID-19 deaths are not actually counted in the United States. Yes, this is a good time to start thinking about the flu.
First, let’s address the number of deaths from COVID-19. There is misinformation that deaths are over-calculated, and that it is not true. How do we know this? Okay, there are many ways, but an image is worth a thousand words so please go to page 13 of www.gehccommandcenter.com/covidexcessdeaths20Aug2020 (courtesy of General Electric Healthcare Command Center Data collected from disease control centers at https: //data.cdc.gov/ NCHS / Weekly-counts-of-deaths-by-jurisdiction-and-age-gr / y5bj-9g5w). This graph shows that the number of deaths per week in the United States from 2015 to February 2020 is closely grouped and does not differ much from year to year, although January 2018 is clearly a particularly bad flu season despite a bump. However, now look at the deaths in red in 2020, the off-the-charts spike at the end of March is still going strong. This was the period when deaths in the US began with COVID-19.
So yes, deaths from COVID-19 are very real. Now, how can we say that they are not actually counted? For this, we can look at the data generated by the Washington Post. The same spike you saw in the graph above from late March to April 2020 was also plotted along with the number of deaths caused by COVID-19. You can see that there are far more “extra deaths” than there are deaths based on previous years plus plus COVID-19 deaths. COVID-19 deaths are not considered direct or indirect deaths because they are not considered COVID-19 deaths, as the death certificates do not list COVID-19 as a cause (most of these have not been tested for COVID-19 to confirm the cause of death).
So, what does all this have to do with the flu? Once again, look at the number of deaths caused by the flu from January 2018. In addition to COVID-19 deaths, not only are flu deaths, an infection weakens a patient’s immune system, making them more susceptible to other infections and complications. Furthermore, the health care system (including doctor visits, emergency department visits and hospitalization) is always challenged during the flu season. Adding COVID-19 cases to this is very relevant!
During the non-Kovid-19 year, an average of 200,000 people were hospitalized in the United States and 20,000 to 35,000 died from the flu. Symptoms of the flu include fever, sore throat, cough, body aches, congestion / runny nose, fatigue, headache, and / or vomiting and diarrhea, very similar to COVID-19 (although the mortality rate from COVID19 is much higher than the common cold). The flu vaccine is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for everyone over 6 months of age, although less than half of eligible Americans receive it. We should do very well this year!
The same precautions that reduce the spread of COVID-19 – social distance, wearing a mask, washing hands, staying at home if you are sick or thinking that you may be exposed – can also help reduce the spread of the flu. In addition, the flu vaccine is already available this year. We hope to get the COVID-19 vaccine very realistically by the end of winter or by next spring. But we should all get our flu shots soon!
Deaths from CO COVID-19 are real; Please ignore the political campaign and look at the facts. Because of this ridiculous political rejection the United States is not doing a good job of resolving the epidemic. Please, socially distance yourself, wear a mask, wash your hands, and self restraint if you are sick or think you may be exposed!
Flu Get your flu shot!
Jeff Hersh, PhD, MD, can be reached at [email protected].