A new study from Baylor College of Medicine will provide a more accurate assessment of the problem. Researchers say that the number of children who have been infected with the virus is on the rise, but not because of “flu-related morbidity but rather because of a higher than normal rate of deaths.” The study looked at flu deaths and found that there was a clear increase in the number of deaths from the flu. More than half of the deaths were due to the flu. And what makes this study interesting is that the research is done by researchers who have a full knowledge of flu viruses – researchers who are scientists. A simple search on PubMed for “flu” and “coronavirus” returned six study papers on the subject. Those six papers all identified the coronavirus, but on three separate occasions the authors wrote, in part, “Not clear whether the increase in deaths observed in the USA [is] due to increased influenza vaccination rates or to influenza-related causes within the population.” The three papers presented by the authors were published in the International Journal of Infection, Parasitology, and Biology. But the researchers are certainly not the first to think the flu would be causing the spike in deaths. It is common for deaths attributed to influenza to also be attributed to some other disease. When the CDC released their last death report in February, they provided numbers that were far higher than those from the U.S. CDC and WHO have estimated. But the CDC is also admitting that the trend in flu fatalities has been trending downward. When they released their first “fever death” figures for 2009, the CDC and World Health Organization predicted that the number of flu-related deaths would be in the 300’s. It took more than six weeks for those figures to even come out after the numbers were released. But when researchers at Baylor and elsewhere start studying the flu in a comprehensive, systematic way, it might not surprise you anymore. Not any more than the CDC.
Posted by David Kajimoto at 12:19 AM
David, what’s your take on this paper? One could look at it in isolation and find it puzzling, for instance in the abstract (which I’m still reading), but it’s in a pretty good, readable, organized manner. It’s a comprehensive review of the literature on the coronaviruses, which are some of the most important virus types for public health. The fact that the study includes people from the U.S. suggests that it’s a reasonable study to be able to compare the results from what has been reported here with the results from a study that’s based only on the US population. (I’ve been to China and Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, I’ll pass on the results of a study that is only based on the populations of major US cities.) Another comment: I think the author could have been a little clearer on the situation with the “crowns and stars” reference. It really was an “infection” rather than a death – and I agree with that observation. To the question of what’s in the coronaviruses, it has been shown that no common, unidirectional DNA virus is transmitted via air from someone to another person. Even after the coronavirus was identified decades ago, few researchers paid much attention to the role of viruses in causing coronaviruses. As for mortality rates, people die of coronaviruses in large numbers even though they only cause a small fraction of total deaths, only 4-5%, depending on the study. So while, overall, people could be contracting the virus and subsequently dying of the illness, the majority are not. And as the author was saying, some other disease might be the cause of a greater number of deaths – you never know with viruses! But that’s OK, because it’s a fact that the death rate increases when we have the virus at large. That’s why it’s a good idea that the CDC release information about the number of children who have died as a result of this virus. For example, the CDC has decided that we should see some type of report on the number of children who die of the flu that results from the virus we caught. If they do not release the data for flu deaths, they will only have an incomplete picture that they’re already missing the situation. Posted by David Kajimoto at 11:49 PM
Professor James Hix, M.D. “There hasn’t been a better time for public health to make a national commitment.” That’s the message from the experts. A national flu strategy would better focus money in the areas where the need is greatest and in those areas with the greatest need. It would strengthen programs targeting the very people many worry about causing the pandemic. “Many experts,” as usual, aren’t even saying that they think it’s inevitable. Some admit that it’s unlikely. But others suggest that it could be happening. It could be a one-off