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I'm Tired of People Comparing COVID-19 to the Flu

billchao

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Title. Seriously. Every day I talk to people who underplay COVID-19 by comparing it to the flu. Just today I spoke with someone who told me, "Tens of thousands of people die from the flu each year, we don't shut anything down for that!" Well you know what? It's not the flu. The flu is something we understand and have historical data for. This is new. A severe flu season has a death rate of 0.17% (something like 80,000 flu-related deaths in 48 million cases). As of today, 6,501 people died out of 169,374 confirmed cases, for a death rate of 3.8%. Even if somehow only one in ten people with COVID-19 are tested and confirmed to have it, it would still be twice as deadly as the flu.

The flu also has a shorter incubation period, with symptoms typically presenting after two to four days. An individual infected with COVID-19 may not present symptoms up to 14 days after infection. That's a possible two weeks for a seemingly healthy individual to go about their daily lives, spreading the disease.

I mentioned that it's new, right? Anyone who has had the flu before will have some natural immunity to similar strands in the future. But, viruses mutate. It's not perfect, but it's something. We have no pre-existing immunity to COVID-19, which potentially makes every single person in the world vulnerable to infection.

Quarantines, school closures, and other changes to our daily lives have inconvenienced us. I get it. But this is about so much more than not being able to watch your favorite sports team compete, or your vacation plans being cancelled. It's not about politics or mass media hysteria. This is a real disease with a serious negative impact to the world and we (Americans) have the opportunity to do something about it before it gets out of hand and we end up like China or Italy.

Sorry, had to get that off my chest. I'll burn this f***ing soapbox now.

Sources:

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/people-have-been-trying-underplay-why-coronavirus-different-flu-n1156801

https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/10/28/does-the-flu-provide-better-immunity-than-a-flu-shot/

https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/spread.htm

https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/



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On 4/19/2020 at 1:24 PM, Archie44 said:

 

How the Pandemic ends depends on medical advances yet to come.  It will also depend on how individual Americans behave in the interim.  If we scrupulously protect ourselves and our loved ones, more of us will live.  If we underestimate the Virus, it will find us...even on golf courses.  "The buck stops at the top" folks--no matter your political affiliation.

Arch

How's it going to find us on golf courses!  I can't even find my ball on the golf course...

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Nonsense...see the New York Public Health report just issued...MILLIONS exposed...that puts the death rate at 0.02% - that’s on par with peanut allergies and bee sting deaths...this is the biggest and most costly overreaction in history

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Seriously??  How the Pandemic will end depends on medical advances yet to come.  It will also depend on how individual Americans behave in the interim.  If we scrupulously protects ourselves and our loved ones, more will live.  If we underestimate the Virus, it will find us...even on the golf courses.

200423-san-francisco-influenza-1918-ac-1

A cautionary tale about the dangers of reopening too soon.

 

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14 minutes ago, Dufferpauly said:

Nonsense...see the New York Public Health report just issued...MILLIONS exposed...that puts the death rate at 0.02% - that’s on par with peanut allergies and bee sting deaths...this is the biggest and most costly overreaction in history

You're basing this position on the antibody testing they did in NYC?

23nyvirus-antibodies-videoSixteenByNineJ

Accurate antibody testing is a critical tool to determine if the pandemic has slowed enough to begin restarting the economy.

There's a lot of valid criticism of these types of studies being conducted around the country.

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Closing everything down stunts herd immunity, the ONLY way to stop it...millions exposed with zero symptoms tells you everything you need to know

Here in Kern County as of TODAY we have 4 deaths out of 900,000 residents...and not everything is closed...we are playing golf...that is a statistical rate of ZERO morbidly 

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1 minute ago, Dufferpauly said:

Closing everything down stunts herd immunity, the ONLY way to stop it...millions exposed with zero symptoms tells you everything you need to know

We don't know there are millions of people infected with zero symptoms. It was a poor extrapolation by a governor trying to be optimistic.

They tested 3,000 people out and about in NYC. That sampling does not accurately represent the population as a whole.

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2 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

Heard Immunity

I bet Johnny Depp wishes he had this.

Sorry I couldn't resist 😜

1 minute ago, Dufferpauly said:

Uh, that one guy can’t even spell “herd...” 

@saevel25 has a history of misspelling things and we occasionally poke fun at him for it, but that doesn't invalidate his arguments.

You, however, have yet to provide any evidence for your claims.

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1 minute ago, Dufferpauly said:

Uh, that one guy can’t even spell “herd...” 

If you been here long enough you know my grammar is legendary 😛 

Also, read the article. 

2 minutes ago, billchao said:

I bet Johnny Depp wishes he had this.

Sorry I couldn't resist 😜

LOL 🤣

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This nation is being sissified by all you panty waist panic mongers...IT’S THE KUNG FLU AND IT HARDLY KILLS ANYONE RELATIVE TO THE EXPOSURE RATE AND MANY MANY “COVID” DEATHS ARE REALLY FROM UNDERLYING OTHER CONDITIONS

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Just now, Dufferpauly said:

This nation is being sissified by all you panty waist panic mongers...IT’S THE KUNG FLU AND IT HARDLY KILLS ANYONE RELATIVE TO THE EXPOSURE RATE AND MANY MANY “COVID” DEATHS ARE REALLY FROM UNDERLYING OTHER CONDITIONS

Tell that to someone who lost a loved one because an asshole went too Florida for spring break. Seriously, the lack of empathy you have is scary. 

Also, back in early April no one new how bad this would be. What if it was bad. Should we take the risk of causing a lot of unwanted deaths just to satisfy your idiotic bravado. 

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14 minutes ago, Archie44 said:

If we underestimate the Virus, it will find us...even on the golf courses.

200423-san-francisco-influenza-1918-ac-1

A cautionary tale about the dangers of reopening too soon.

 

I am very cautious.  Disinfect surfaces in my home every day.  Mask, wash hands often.  But if we do it right the virus will find us on the golf course about as often as a double eagle finds us.

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7CA31B31-E732-4DE3-B3263AC341549026.jpg

The former are actual numbers; the latter are inflated statistical estimates

I'll post some excerpts, but the full article isn't a long read.

Quote

When reports about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 began circulating earlier this year and questions were being raised about how the illness it causes, COVID-19, compared to the flu, it occurred to me that, in four years of emergency medicine residency and over three and a half years as an attending physician, I had almost never seen anyone die of the flu. I could only remember one tragic pediatric case.

Based on the CDC numbers though, I should have seen many, many more. In 2018, over 46,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses. Over 36,500 died in traffic accidents. Nearly 40,000 died from gun violence. I see those deaths all the time. Was I alone in noticing this discrepancy?

The author, Dr. Faust, wrote further that he called colleagues around the country and found they had similar experiences. In 2018, the CDC estimated that 61,000 people died from the flu, so it's odd that the doctors would not have seen flu deaths.

Quote

The 25,000 to 69,000 numbers that Trump cited do not represent counted flu deaths per year; they are estimates that the CDC produces by multiplying the number of flu death counts reported by various coefficients produced through complicated algorithms. These coefficients are based on assumptions of how many cases, hospitalizations, and deaths they believe went unreported. In the last six flu seasons, the CDC’s reported number of actual confirmed flu deaths—that is, counting flu deaths the way we are currently counting deaths from the coronavirus—has ranged from 3,448 to 15,620, which far lower than the numbers commonly repeated by public officials and even public health experts.

Emphasis is mine. I don't know why I accepted the CDC flu death numbers at face value. The US passed 15,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths like a month ago. Even if we only count deaths from confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 without pneumonia or influenza, the current count is more than twice that of what was considered a bad flu season.

Here's a table I copied from the CDC website, which can be found here:


National Center for Health Statistics

 

Quote
Week ending date in which the death occurred COVID-19 Deaths (U07.1)1 Deaths from All Causes Percent of Expected Deaths2 Pneumonia Deaths
(J12.0–J18.9)3
Deaths with Pneumonia and COVID-19
(J12.0–J18.9 and U07.1)3
Influenza Deaths
(J09–J11)4
Deaths with Pneumonia, Influenza, or COVID-19
U07.1 or J09–J18.9)5
Total Deaths 37,308 719,438 97 64,382 16,564 5,846 90,165
2/1/2020 0 57,266 97 3,688 0 469 4,157
2/8/2020 1 57,615 97 3,672 0 494 4,167
2/15/2020 0 56,878 97 3,693 0 517 4,210
2/22/2020 0 56,806 98 3,557 0 536 4,093
2/29/2020 5 56,843 99 3,626 3 619 4,247
3/7/2020 25 56,212 97 3,719 14 583 4,312
3/14/2020 49 53,968 95 3,676 25 578 4,277
3/21/2020 493 53,979 95 4,150 226 496 4,907
3/28/2020 2,712 57,430 103 5,624 1,235 410 7,463
4/4/2020 8,082 64,313 115 8,724 3,875 432 13,148
4/11/2020 12,262 66,577 120 9,841 5,468 430 16,744
4/18/2020 10,408 55,062 101 7,606 4,402 215 13,663
4/25/2020 3,271 26,489 49 2,806 1,316 67 4,777

NOTE: Number of deaths reported in this table are the total number of deaths received and coded as of the date of analysis and do not represent all deaths that occurred in that period. The United States population, based on 2018 postcensal estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, is 327,167,434.

*Data during this period are incomplete because of the lag in time between when the death occurred and when the death certificate is completed, submitted to NCHS and processed for reporting purposes. This delay can range from 1 week to 8 weeks or more, depending on the jurisdiction, age, and cause of death.

1Deaths with confirmed or presumed COVID-19, coded to ICD–10 code U07.1

2Percent of expected deaths is the number of deaths for all causes for this week in 2020 compared to the average number across the same week in 2017–2019. Previous analyses of 2015–2016 provisional data completeness have found that completeness is lower in the first few weeks following the date of death (<25%), and then increases over time such that data are generally at least 75% complete within 8 weeks of when the death occurred (8).

3Pneumonia death counts exclude pneumonia deaths involving influenza.

4Influenza death counts include deaths with pneumonia or COVID-19 also listed as a cause of death.

5Deaths with confirmed or presumed COVID-19, pneumonia, or influenza, coded to ICD–10 codes U07.1 or J09–J18.9.

The gist of it is people are using bad data to make arguments. I, too, am guilty of it, though I am on the side that COVID-19 is worse than the flu. And even if we continue to use that data and say 60,000 people die from the flu each year, we're at that point now in confirmed or presumed COVID-19 deaths, and that's with social distancing and other measures in place. It's hard to imagine how many people would have died without any action taken in response to COVID-19.

Anyway, one last excerpt from the article:

Quote

The question remains. Can we accurately compare the toll of the flu to the toll of the coronavirus pandemic?

To do this, we have to compare counted deaths to counted deaths, not counted deaths to wildly inflated statistical estimates. If we compare, for instance, the number of people who died in the United States from COVID-19 in the second full week of April to the number of people who died from influenza during the worst week of the past seven flu seasons (as reported to the CDC), we find that the novel coronavirus killed between 9.5 and 44 times more people than seasonal flu. In other words, the coronavirus is not anything like the flu: It is much, much worse.

Going by just this year, the week ending 4/11/20, 12,262 people died from confirmed or presumed COVID-19 alone, not counting those who had COVID-19 and pneumonia. 430 people died from influenza (sort of, the count includes pneumonia and COVID-19 listed as cause of death). In that week, COVID-19 was 28.5 times more deadly than the flu.

And again, I can't stress this enough, this is after measure were taken to help slow the spread of disease.

Quote

From this perspective, the data on coronavirus and flu actually match—rather than flying in the face of—our lived reality in the coronavirus pandemic: hospitals in hot spots stretched to their limits and, in New York City in particular, so many dead that the bodies are stacked in refrigerator trucks. We have never seen such conditions.

I kind of feel like NYC hospital care capacity is a bit like lifeboat capacity on the Titanic. I imagine it's similar in other parts of the country.

That wasn't really the note I wanted to end this comment on, but I can't think of a good one anyway.

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The point is, there is no way to tell how bad things would have gotten. Even if this thing turned out to be not as bad as it was initially, you can't not take the risk. What if it was. It sucks, but its much worse to be wrong about how bad it is. Then you really are in a bad shape. 

I think a leader could live with the fact that we had 2-3 somewhat bad months, but made sure that we didn't have half a year of catastrophe. 

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6 minutes ago, saevel25 said:

The point is, there is no way to tell how bad things would have gotten. Even if this thing turned out to be not as bad as it was initially, you can't not take the risk. What if it was. It sucks, but its much worse to be wrong about how bad it is. Then you really are in a bad shape. 

I think a leader could live with the fact that we had 2-3 somewhat bad months, but made sure that we didn't have half a year of catastrophe. 

We don't know how bad things would have gotten without doing anything, but I'm pretty confident that it would be worse than it is today.

COVID-19 is still spreading through essential businesses. Just look at what's happening in the meatpacking industry.

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The 1918 Pandemic (Spanish Flu) era demonstrated that lifting restrictions too soon was catastrophic!  Millions died.  If history does repeat itself, as so often happens; and since this Virus is so new, erring on the side of caution is prudent.

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1 hour ago, billchao said:

the way we are currently counting deaths from the coronavirus

That's bullshit, though, Bill, because they're just listing almost any respiratory related death as being COVID-19 right now. People who have died of heart attacks are classified as COVID deaths. Etc.

1 hour ago, Archie44 said:

The 1918 Pandemic (Spanish Flu) era demonstrated that lifting restrictions too soon was catastrophic!  Millions died.  If history does repeat itself, as so often happens; and since this Virus is so new, erring on the side of caution is prudent.

Do you think we've not advanced in the last 100+ years?

Cripes.

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4 minutes ago, iacas said:

That's bullshit, though, Bill, because they're just listing almost any respiratory related death as being COVID-19 right now.

Is it? The CDC table is there, it breaks it down some. I’m certainly not a doctor or medical examiner so I’m not going to assume anything other than they’re probably doing their jobs right when they list cause of death.

7 minutes ago, iacas said:

People who have died of heart attacks are classified as COVID deaths. Etc.

Are people dying of heart attacks with no signs of COVID-19 being listed as dying of COVID-19? That’s not right.

If people die of a heart attack as a result of COVID-19 or have heart disease and got COVID-19 and died as a result, I can see COVID-19 being listed as a cause of death legitimately.

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6 minutes ago, billchao said:

Is it? The CDC table is there, it breaks it down some. I’m certainly not a doctor or medical examiner so I’m not going to assume anything other than they’re probably doing their jobs right when they list cause of death.

Are people dying of heart attacks with no signs of COVID-19 being listed as dying of COVID-19? That’s not right.

If people die of a heart attack as a result of COVID-19 or have heart disease and got COVID-19 and died as a result, I can see COVID-19 being listed as a cause of death legitimately.

If Covid-19 got you into the hospital, and you tested positive, and you died of a hangnail while there, under the influence of Covid-19, then you died from Covid-19 being contributory.

I have a friend whose mother had cancer and was admitted to the hospital.  She fought so hard against the cancer while in the hospital that she died of a heart attack.  Her death certificate listed "heart attack" as the cause of her death... though we all know what really caused her death.

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2 minutes ago, Double Mocha Man said:

If Covid-19 got you into the hospital, and you tested positive, and you died of a hangnail while there, under the influence of Covid-19, then you died from Covid-19 being contributory.

I have a friend whose mother had cancer and was admitted to the hospital.  She fought so hard against the cancer while in the hospital that she died of a heart attack.  Her death certificate listed "heart attack" as the cause of her death... though we all know what really caused her death.

Yea that makes sense to me and that’s why I have no issue with COVID-19 being listed as a cause of death if it’s somehow related.

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Just now, billchao said:

Yea that makes sense to me and that’s why I have no issue with COVID-19 being listed as a cause of death if it’s somehow related.

Agreed.  You wouldn't have gone to the hospital if it hadn't been for Covid-19.  As for myself, I hate hospitals, so I'm never going there.  So I will never be a statistic.

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