Australians wiped out the flu and avoided 50,000 other cases of sickness and disease

Lessons from Coronavirus

Lockdowns and border closures mean many diseases have been prevented

It’s peak season for flu here in Australia and there’s almost no sign of it. As Chris Gillham wrote here back in May, we know lockdowns stop viruses, because flu cases are 85% down. Now he shows that this extends to other diseases too, and Chris has used data from the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System to calculate that just shy of 200,000 fewer Australians contracted any of the notifiable diseases in the first seven months of 2020 compared to the first seven months of 2019.

Is some of that disease burden just the price of holiday-makers bringing back diseases from overseas each year?

No one wants to stop the planes returning to the skies, but it begs the question — do we have to accept the onslaught of winter germs every year?

The answer may lie with other things we’ve discovered in the Covid pandemic too — that sick people should stay home from work and school, and that we have a lot of anti-viral tools we can use. Perhaps it’s time that travellers considered taking preemptive anti-virals, which might improve their holidays and also reduce […]

Influenza cases are 85% down across 17 countries

Border closures and Quarantine appear to be reducing all respiratory diseases

It’s a striking pattern all over the world. Measures taken to reduce the spread of Covid have, not surprisingly, reduced the spread of all respiratory diseases.

This years flu season is smaller than the last five years

Good news: due to the pandemic it’s likely many people are not catching Influenza and other respiratory diseases.This shows a rather predictable result that quarantine reduces the spread of respiratory diseases. It’s a banal and uncontroversial finding.

Chris Gillham is a part of the unofficial BOM audit team here, and below he looks at WHO data across 17 countries for Influenza. (The WHO Chief of course is a belt-n-debt-trap apologist for China, but this is not their modeled interpretation, just the data). Laboratory indicated influenza cases are down an astonishing 87% in 17 nations compared to the five year period.

Quarantine is textbook microbiology, and for most of history, the best way to reduce the spread of disease. In many countries 12 days after major isolation measures started, viral growth flattened off the dreaded exponential curve. Despite that, some commentators still wonder if the lockdowns achieve anything for Coronavirus. And so […]

Beware: the famous Flu death tally is “highly adjusted” and Coronavirus is still 10 times worse

The annual Flu death tally is not what it seems

It’s another bubble I don’t want to pop. Thanks for sticking in there in the quest for data that counts.

People worry that doctors are inflating the number of Coronavirus-deaths by listing other kinds of deaths in the Covid category. Fair enough. But they miss that this has effectively already been done with the famous flu death count. The national discussion is stuck in a rut, because it’s trying to compare confirmed cases of Coronavirus with modelized broad category influenza “burdens”.

It’s tempting to cite the current toll of 72,000 US Coronavirus deaths and wonder why we’ve reacted so differently to the worst influenza season where 62,000 people died of the flu (supposedly). But the actual confirmed cases of influenza deaths in the US are only 3,000 – 15,000 annually. Coronavirus really is on a different scale.

The headline grabbing flu numbers are modeled guesses based on assumptions about things like how many people go to hospital, how many get tested, or what other diseases were around at the time. It’s called the Influenza Disease Burden, not the List of Those Who Died, because it’s statistics and word-games. […]

Masks do help, even (maybe) stopping 75% of influenza, and you can make them

In the West the public have been discouraged from wearing face masks, and told they aren’t much help. This is mostly because they are “much help” and the front line docs and nurses really need them but no one in charge ordered enough in advance, and none of them had the honesty to say so. The daft push-me-pull-you messaging of how the useless masks are needed on the front line will go down as a case study in how not to communicate (or build trust). The truth is we do want people to wear masks in the street, because it almost certainly does slow transmission. (These Lancet authors think so too).

In high density East Asian nations, face masks are common. (And viral growth curves are generally slower, though for lots of reasons.) Possibly after Coronavirus has gone, masks in winter might be more common here too.

Things can change fast:

Kamil Chudačík, twitter:

In Czech Republic we went from: “Look at the idiot wearing a mask!” to “Look at the idiot not wearing a mask!” in 2 days. I can say the czechs are very conservative in terms of changes so I’m surprised by this behavior. The […]