Where’d the Flu go? — 2020 the year influenza almost disappeared

COVID-19 — It’s so big and bad it made the influenza numbers drop to their lowest in almost a decade! Yes, you heard that right — influenza reports show that we have the lowest numbers that have been seen in the past nine seasons.

As I listened to the public health officials of Ontario today talk once again about hypothetical scenarios based off of modelling and predictions, I was reminded of some reports I had been looking into. FluWatchers reports are used by the government of Canada as a way to track and graph influenza testing and transmission — similar to the way COVID is tracked and graphed.

As I began to dig into the data, major questions began to surface about the COVID “pandemic” — if influenza numbers disappeared at the same time of the peak (weeks 15 to 19), is that just a coincidence? Now, the FluWatchers report does try to justify that very obvious drop in numbers by saying “Many influenza surveillance indicators may be influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic, including changes in healthcare-seeking behaviour, and testing capacity. Current data should be interpreted with consideration for this context.”

There is only one way to find out how to interpret this data — by looking at the data itself.

There is a clear issue with influenza testing this year — the percentage of positive influenza tests is the lowest it has been in nine years and conveniently disappeared at the peak of COVID!

“In weeks 15 to 19, the percentage of laboratory tests positive for influenza remained at the lowest level observed compared the past nine seasons. The average percentage of tests positive for influenza during this five-week period was 0.13% compared to 12.6% during the past five seasons.”

In addition to a positive influenza test rate that dropped-off by over 12 percent, when compared, the 2018 to 2019, and 2019 to 2020 influenza charts show that influenza seems to disappear off the face of the planet directly at the time coinciding with when COVID cases began to “spike” (weeks 13-20 roughly).

side by side comparison of positive influenza tests 2018-2019 and 2019-2020

What’s worse is the very clear effort to not chart out the 2018 to 2019 influenza numbers as they did for the 2019 to 2020 influenza chart. This makes it appear as though in 2018 to 2019 that the flu disappeared after week 16 — but a quick dig through the reports and you can find that is not the case at all. In the reports they also don’t give the percentage in the raw text data section provided for the 2018 to 2019 influenza data — so you have to look up these percentages by going through individual reports, week by week.

“The percentage of positive tests crossed the seasonal threshold of 5% in week 12 (mid-March), indicating the end of the influenza season at the national level, 9 weeks earlier than average compared to the past 5 seasons.” This is directly from the FluWatchers report, where they state that influenza season ended 9 weeks, or 2 months earlier than compared to the average of the last 5 years.

The FluWatchers report continues to go on in depth about the vast amount of discrepancies of the 2020 influenza season compared to previous years. During weeks 20 to 24 as an example, the government tested three times more people for influenza than compared to the last five years, but still came up with a statically smaller number of positives as both a percentage and total. The report goes on to say,

“The average percentage of tests positive for influenza during this 5-week period was 0.08% compared to 4.36% during the past 5 seasons.”

What about weeks 25 to 29 this year? Are they statistical anomalies as well? You guessed it — more statistical outliers that break the mold of the last nine years of data!

“During weeks 25 to 29, the percentage of tests positive for influenza (0.03%) remained at the lowest level recorded for the past nine seasons.”

FluWatchers report https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/fluwatch/2019-2020/weeks-25-29-june-14-july-18-2020.html

Well, surely things get back to normal in weeks 30 to 34 and don’t break a decade of statistical averages right? Wrong again!

“During weeks 30 to 34, the percentage of tests positive for influenza (0.03%) remained at the lowest level recorded for the past nine seasons.”

Ok, let’s stop there and ask — how many coincidences are there allowed to be — before it’s not a coincidence anymore?

Let me break down this data for you even further. Let’s compare the peak weeks of the pandemic period only. Let’s compare weeks 13 to 19 for both fiscal years side by side and let you decide if something isn’t adding up to you.

How is it that in the period of weeks 13 to 16 for 2019 there was 3400 confirmed lab tests, but in 2020 during the same period there was only 235 lab confirmed tests for influenza?

Confirmed cases per 100 thousand shows peak at weeks 13-20 roughly

With many of the symptoms of the flu seemingly overlapping with symptoms of COVID-19, and the coincidence of confirmed flu cases dropping off right at the peak of the “pandemic,” we must wonder if some of these flu numbers are now being counted as COVID cases.

2020 chart showing tests done and positive cases and percentage as a whole of testing – data from FluWatchers reports

Did Influenza suddenly become less infectious at the exact same time that COVID was “spiking?”

https://www.cebm.net/covid-19/pcr-positives-what-do-they-mean/

A direct comparison of influenza numbers for weeks 13,14 and 15 looks like this;

PT – positive tests

LD – lab detections (positive tests)

2019 (wk-13) – 22 per cent PT

LD – 939

2020 (wk-13) – 1.3 per cent PT

LD – 179

2019 (wk-14) – 19 per cent PT

LD – 1091

2020 (wk-14) – 0.4 per cent PT

LD – 41

2019 (wk-15) – 20 per cent PT

LD – 756

2020 (wk-15) – 0.1 per cent PT

LD – 14

The above comparison reveals the elephant in the room — why did Influenza numbers disappear this year right at the time of the COVID peak? We have some questions that we now need to demand out of our politicians — starting with “where did the flu go in 2020?”

Don’t let this one slide — call your MPP and MP and start asking questions and demanding answers. We were doing roughly three times the testing before the COVID peak began in week 13 of this year and still returned a significantly smaller percentage of positives tests compared to the averages from previous years. Why do we have test results yielding a much lower percentage of positives compared to previous years? Then after the peak began — testing seemed to disappear altogether. Why do we have a much lower number of influenza tests being done now during the COVID era?

Viruses don’t just go away — the flu is no exception.

Share this far and wide — our politicians have some questions to answer.


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Published by Greg Staley

Greg Staley is a husband, and a father to 3 beautiful girls. He is a concerned citizen who is closely watching his government's actions through critical thinking, and assessment of all qualified and relevant data. He believes in going to the Primary sources of data at all times if possible.