Swine Flu Archives

Science credibility flu away - at least in Europe

By Michael Fumento

Throughout the phony flu pandemic I warned that health officials would lose credibility because basically everything they were telling us was false and, unlike with some phony predictions which are safely years away, these quickly be shown false.

Turns out I was right - depending on what part of the world you live in.

A Tale of Two Flus

A combined Scientific American/Nature magazine poll shows that of the 15 issues people were asked about, they trusted scientists the least regarding flu pandemics. Ah, but there's a big asterisk. It was a poll of both Europeans and Americans. And only 31 percent of the Americans expressed serious distrust, compared to 69 percent of the Europeans.

Why the difference? The very media I was constantly criticizing. While a number of journalists and publications in Europe were critical of the WHO and their own governments, the American media acted as a mouthpiece for anybody - official or otherwise - willing to say something scary about swine flu.

More to the point, they've continued to do so. Nobody in this country has issued a mea culpa and nobody ever will, anymore than they did with heterosexual AIDS, SARS, avian flu and so many other hysterias they either perpetuated or outright fomented. Most recently it's been Toyota. The motto of the American media, originally uttered in a John Wayne movie, is: "Never apologize. It's a sign of weakness."

Pack journalism is so pervasive in America we've practically got the equivalent of a state run media. And because of that, eventually it WILL BE a state run media.

September 28, 2010 12:36 PM  ·  Permalink

WHO "ends" pandemic that never was, my Philly Inquirer piece

By Michael Fumento

Hallelujah, the disaster has been averted! The World Health Organization last week declared the H1N1 swine flu pandemic over.

Except for one little thing: It never happened. That is, as I write in today's Philly Inquirer, the WHO had no business labeling it a "pandemic." It did so purely for its own interests, wreaking worldwide havoc.

Meanwhile, the world has wasted billions of dollars that could have been spent on diseases like tuberculosis, which each year kills 70 times as many people as swine flu did, according to the WHO. Now add in the "crying wolf" factor, which means many people will ignore public-health warnings when a truly nasty disease comes along, and you'll see how much damage was done by the swine flu disinformation campaign.

August 20, 2010 10:08 AM  ·  Permalink

My article: "Purveying Pig Flu Panic at the Post"

By Michael Fumento

"Panic is what we want," Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum wrote last May of swine flu. "Panic is good," she said, also labeling the disease a "pandemic" five weeks before the World Health Organization (WHO) did.

The Post's rational response to swine flu

Yet flu season is now officially over and we've had about 12,500 total flu deaths, or a third the usual number according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates.

Still, say what you will about the Post Opinions page coverage of swine flu, it was consistent. It kept on promoting panic, notwithstanding they knew they were wrong, that indeed one of their contributors was outright lying. I know because I repeatedly kept them informed. Read my article about those estimates of 207,000 American dead and nine million worldwide that Opinions foisted on us - in the name of spreading panic.

June 13, 2010 03:54 PM  ·  Permalink

"Why Do We Continue to Believe Bizarre Things?" my AOL News article

By Michael Fumento

Why in an age saturated with information, do we believe bizarre things? Things like crop circles, alien abductions, and 9/11 conspiracy theories? Why do we believe wild Toyota stories like the 94 mph "runaway Prius"? The gearbox allowed shifting into neutral by merely reaching out a finger, but the driver told credulous reporters he was afraid to do so because he needed to keep both hands on the steering wheel. And regarding that cell phone in his hand?

She had the same brain we do. Not to mention other attributes ...

Why a steady stream of mass hysterias, like swine flu last year and Toyota sudden unintended acceleration.

At the core is that despite our computers and communications devices and other gadgets, and despite all the scientific discoveries made, we still have pretty much the same brains as Paleolithic man some 40,000 years ago. That brain looks for magic and it looks for patterns. And unlike Paleolithic man we have modern institutions like the media, government, and lawyers who exploit those base thoughts.

I hope and think you'll find my article a real eye-opener in EXPLAINING so many of the things I've made a career writing about.

May 15, 2010 10:33 PM  ·  Permalink

The NEW reason for fomenting pig flu panic - "Use up those vaccines!"

By Michael Fumento

According to Reuters, the U.S. has 71 million unused H1N1 swine flu vaccine doses. And damned if it isn't determined to use up every last one, in order to reduce the embarrassment of throwing away so much of the expensive stuff.

States and other providers should hang on to the vaccine and continue to offer them, says HHS spokesman Bill Hall. After all, points out Reuters (and specifically "health writer" Maggie Fox, who has established herself as being clearly bad for her readers' health, "H1N1 swine flu is still technically causing a pandemic and health officials say anyone who has not been vaccinated should still try, in case it causes a third wave of serious disease.

Yes, "technically," because after what we've seen from the WHO, which changed the definition of "pandemic" in order to make the mildest flu strain in decades rank right up there with Spanish flu, technically they can do everything they want.

Here are some facts instead. The CDC reports that last week it had two positive infections of all strains of flu, down from 2,336 at height of the epidemic. Flu season officially ends May 15 and it takes about two weeks to build up immunity. So anybody getting the shot today . . . And yet, there's a big red sign at my pharmacist admonishing people to get their swine flu vaccines and in several states that I know of health departments are running TV commercials to continue to scare people into using up those vaccines.

En autre mots, instead of dumping vaccine into landfills they're trying to dump them into our arms!

Finally, there will be a third wave. It will start when cold season arrives. And it will be almost entirely piggy flu. You see, swine flu now is seasonal flu. Which is wonderful as long as it lasts because it's so very mild.

May 4, 2010 11:45 AM  ·  Permalink

Hate mail from an M.D. regarding my AOL News piece, "Did WHO Knowingly Hype Swine Flu?"

By Michael Fumento

Dear Mr. Fumento:

Well, if you wish to destroy the credibility of the WHO, publishing a few more articles like the most recent one [Did WHO Knowingly Hype Swine Flu?"] should be quite a help.

"Trust me! I'm a doctor!"

As an individual who happens to know quite a bit about medicine, influenza, public health and pandemic influenza planning and response, my opinion (which sadly won't be published and broadcast to the world) is that you don't know what you are talking about. Understandable since you have, apparently, absolutely no background in medicine or public health.

Quite clearly, if the WHO had underplayed the threat and lives had been lost that, in your opinion, could have been saved, you would now be savaging the WHO for underplaying the threat. Apparently, in the fantasy world you inhabit, complete accuracy in predicting the future is not only possible, but required. Next time, I will know better than to read an article with your byline.

David Buhner MD MS

Dear Dr. Buhner:

Let me try to understand this. The WHO changes the definition of "pandemic" so that it can label as such a strain that's clearly vastly milder than seasonal flu. It then proceeds to lie repeatedly about having changed the definition, notwithstanding that both versions remain on its Web site. But in pointing this out, *I* am the bad guy; I'm the one destroying the WHO's credibility. The WHO played no role in all this. Ever hear the expression about shooting the messenger?

Actually, I've been publishing on medicine and public health for 23 years so the ad hominem doesn't go too far. I also don't accept another logical fallacy you've offered, that of "black and white." It is not the case that the WHO must either grossly overstate the threat of a contagion in order to prevent understating it. A key paragraph in my article is this:

It's not as if the WHO knew nothing about the mildness of H1N1 early on. I wrote about it on May 1, subsequently publishing 14 articles in major publications on what I immediately dubbed hysteria. If I knew better, there's no reason the WHO shouldn't have known better.

Why did a single journalist, albeit one with a very strong medicine and public health background, with no budget, know so much so early that the WHO apparently did not? You have the choice of ignorance or intent. Insofar as my piece also contained strong evidence of intent, that would be the logical choice.

Michael Fumento

April 19, 2010 01:11 PM  ·  Permalink

Return of the swine flu boogyeman!

By Michael Fumento

Swine flu has proved a terrible embarrassment for the CDC and especially the WHO, as I'll be discussing in a forthcoming article. Still, all is not lost says John Mackenzie, head of the WHO's secretive Emergency Committee. He told Reuters that swine flu is just as severe as we saw in [the pandemics of ]1957 and 1968 at least with regard to children. “We are not seeing deaths in the elderly but we are seeing them in a more important group of the population, healthy young adults.” He offered no data in support – and for good reason.

"I want your child! Also, can I have a glass of water?"

Younger people comprise a larger portion of swine flu deaths than seasonal flu does, but only because so few people in the other age categories are dying. The American College Health Association Pandemic Influenza Surveillance of Influenza Like Illness (ILI) in Colleges and Universities currently indicates that of 95,000 cases serious enough to be reported (and by definition milder cases go unreported), there have been merely four deaths.

The CDC does report that pediatric deaths have been about double the normal toll during a flu season, but as I've explained previously they're almost certainly overcounting - which is possible because of the distinction between dying of the flu and with the flu. In any case, with the CDC estimating a total of 12,000 dead of flu this year (as opposed to the usual 36,000), those 272 still comprise only 2.66 percent of total deaths.

None of which is to say 272 deaths isn't a tragedy. Of course it is. But it's also a tragedy when the World Health Organization, you know, the only world health organization we have, continues to lie to us and our media continue to accept it without question.

April 17, 2010 01:38 PM  ·  Permalink

CDC dumping swine flu vaccine - after media dumped the truth

By Michael Fumento

What do you get from a phony flu scare? Among other things, lots of worthless vaccine.

"Despite months of dire warnings and millions in taxpayer dollars, less than half of the 229 million doses of H1N1 vaccine the government bought to fight the pandemic have been administered - leaving an estimated 71.5 million doses that must be discarded if they are not used before they expire." So reports the Washington Post's Rob Stein.

Actually, it's billions of dollars but who's counting? And actually Rob Stein contributed to all this with such article ledes as: "Swine flu could infect half the U.S. population this fall and winter, hospitalizing up to 1.8 million people and causing as many as 90,000 deaths - more than double the number that occur in an average flu season, according to an estimate from a presidential panel released Monday."

Of course, who knew better back then in August? Well, I did. Just days later in the Philadelphia Inquirer I noted statistics showing swine flu to be vastly milder than seasonal flu and said swine flu appears to be replacing the current seasonal H1N1 virus. Therefore, as one former WHO epidemiologist told me, "My bet is that the coming [U.S.] season will not be too severe - at or below that of a usual flu season."

And indeed, the latest CDC estimate, with the flu almost gone, is that 12,000 Americans have died this season as opposed to the typical 36,000. And as I've written, data from other countries indicate the CDC estimates are almost certainly far too high. Did I have access to any information the Washington Post didn't? Or for that matter The New York Times or Wall Street Journal or USA Today and on and on? Obviously not.

Of course, now the media have moved on to a new hysteria: "Runaway Killer Toyotas." And they're playing the same game. Why was I the one who exposed the "runaway Prius" hoax? Did I have access to any information the rest of the media did not?

And yet they're still not telling the truth about the hoax.

Four days after my piece appeared, the Washington Post declared driver James "Sikes said he tried to free his gas pedal with his hand but did not say whether he put the car in neutral." As I had noted he repeatedly said he did not try to put the car in neutral, including at a press conference available on the Web and in a CNN interview on the Web. And importantly, the reasons he gave showed beyond any doubt he was lying. That's why it's important to the Post that its readers not know that.

The media still pursue stories to be sure. But if you believe they place much value on pursuit of the truth, might I inquire as to the address of the rock under which you've been living?

April 2, 2010 10:01 AM  ·  Permalink

Swine flu and heterosexual AIDS

By Michael Fumento

About 57 million Americans, or something less than a fifth of the population, have contracted swine flu since April, the CDC says, of whom it estimates about 11,690 have died.


Never mind that data from other countries like France and Japan indicate the ratio of deaths to infections is probably much lower than CDC assumes and therefore that 11,690 figure is probably far too high. It could be just 5,000 or even lower. It remains that this same agency says that on average 36,000 Americans a year die of regular old garden variety seasonal flu.

Anyway you figure it, as I've repeatedly written, and as the rest of the U.S. media have repeatedly not written - thereby giving the U.S. policy makers and the World Health Organization (WHO) free rein - swine flu is so mild that it acts as an inoculation and actually prevents a lot of deaths. In early October I noted we saw that pattern in New Zealand and Australia, where they had their flu seasons before we did and even had no swine flu vaccine, and therefore we would see it here.

That despite apocalyptic estimates of 30,000 to 90,000, according to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology or "89,000 to 207,000," according to a Washington Post op-ed by flu book author John Barry. (Not incidentally, the Post has repeatedly turned down anti-hysteria pieces of mine that were good enough to appear in other prestigious publications.)

In the meantime, the federal government has probably spent over $10 billion "fighting" the “roaring razorback” that proved to be a pathetic piglet, and a lot of people have been scared out of their wits. Around the world, other governments did likewise after the WHO declared its phony pandemic in an effort to cover for yet another hysteria that it fomented, that of avian flu.

That's not to mention Secretary-General Margaret Chandler's invocation to her minions to use the swine flu scare to convince governments that "changes in the functioning of the global economy" are needed to "distribute wealth on the basis of" values "like community, solidarity, equity and social justice."

Why fight disease when you can fight capitalism?

Yet as with the first phony epidemic I began writing about, heterosexual AIDS way back in 1987, these data were out there all along for anybody to pick up and relate. The Internet has made it all the easier. Nobody sent me anything in a plain brown envelope. There was no "Deep Throat" informant and none required. Likewise with other phony infectious disease scares I've written about, including "pandemic Ebolavirus," SARS, and avian flu. Twenty-two years on and it's the same old thing.

Am I a reincarnation of Nostradamus who, inexplicably rather than making billions playing the lottery, is doing work that doesn't begin to cover his mortgage payments? Or is there something horribly, horribly wrong with our media? And for you "new media" fans, sorry but those teeming millions of bloggers missed the boat as well.

February 15, 2010 08:05 PM  ·  Permalink

Flu Report Feb. 12 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing

By Michael Fumento

As the CDC's FluView Web site puts it, "During the week of January 31 – February 6, 2010, most key flu indicators remained about the same as during the previous week."


Tellingly, Dr. Anne Schuchat, who heads the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in warning against complacency, declared "Individual cases of H1N1 continue to occur." Hello? At the height of flu season you're talking about "individual cases" occurring?

Again, the only area of interest is to what extent has swine flu swept aside the vastly more severe seasonal flu. Again, at the height of flu season, CDC labs have only received two flu samples that might not be swine flu.

Also in the news, CNN reports Schuchat "sounded pleased" that a CDC survey estimates 23.4 percent of the population have received the swine flu vaccine, including slightly over a third of children under age 18.

That's pleasing? Lady, that's a failure. Part of it is the government's fault and part is that despite government-fomented hysteria most Americans just aren't taking this thing too seriously, and rightly so.

February 12, 2010 01:07 PM  ·  Permalink

Flu Report Feb. 5 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing

By Michael Fumento

Here's an amazing fact. Traditionally flu season peaks in mid-February. Essentially now. Yet in mid-October CDC labs reported 11,908 positive flu samples. This past week they reported only 119, in turn fewer than the week before! NO states are reporting widespread flu activity.

There in a nutshell is your awful swine flu epidemic everybody warned of.

As I've repeatedly written, as was the case in Australia and New Zealand, the milder swine flu has simply brushed aside the far deadlier seasonal flu. In essence, swine flu has become our seasonal flu. And whether the health authorities end up admitting it or not, as was the case in Australia and New Zealand where they had NO swine flu vaccine, a lot fewer of us are going to die this year as a result.

February 5, 2010 01:37 PM  ·  Permalink

John Stossel salutes my swine flu work

By Michael Fumento

[Herewith his blog for Fox Business, titled "Swine Flu Hysteria." I agree with him about the pharmaceutical companies. As I've written elsewhere, in addition to the usual bureaucratic desire for growth in power and budget, the WHO was seeking to cover its tracks for an earlier hysteria - that of avian flu. Moreover, it has been remarkably open (Even if I'm the only one to report on it) about seeking to exploit swine flu to engineer hard-left political change including the redistribution of wealth between countries and instituting "social justice."]

Stossel wearing my former mustache

"The Official Word to All, Get a Swine Flu Vaccination Now" was the New York Times headline earlier this month. That followed months of headlines like:

"Swine flu has killed 540 kids, sickened 22 million Americans" (USA Today)

"U.S. prepares for possible swine flu epidemic as global cases rise" (CNN)

But Michael Fumento writes that the facts on swine flu hardly live up to the months of hype.

Hidden within the latest edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's
FluView was this sentence: "The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was below the epidemic threshold"...

You may recall all those additional deaths we were supposed to suffer as a result of swine flu - 30,000 to 90,000, according to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (a number I previously disputed)...

But like New Zealand and Australia, the United States can actually expect considerably fewer overall flu deaths because of the swine flu...

Only 161 new infections were reported to CDC-monitored labs last week, compared to 11,470 at the epidemic's mid-October peak.

One reason that there are fewer deaths - a reason little reported by the overheated media -- is that most swine flu is milder than seasonal flu. The Council of Europe now wants an investigation of the United Nation's World Health Organization. It claims WHO, in league with pharmaceutical companies, declared swine flu a pandemic to sell vaccine. The WHO denies the accusation, saying the pandemic is not over.

I doubt that WHO bureaucrats hype swine flu to promote pharmaceutical companies. I suspect that they do it because it inflates their self-worth.

After all the media coverage, scaring us to death, now we'll see if there are stories that inform us of how deadly swine flu really turned out to be.

January 30, 2010 05:32 PM  ·  Permalink

Flu Report Jan. 29 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing

By Michael Fumento

Deaths down, hospitalizations down, infections reported to CDC-surveillance labs down. Again the usual disclaimer that this probably represents a time lag in reporting and this are probably all actually the same as the week before.

The only aspect of interest again is that of 164 positive samples those labs have received, only two clearly were not swine flu. So here we are, approaching what is the peak of the annual flu season (mid-February) and it does appear that, as was the case in Australia and New Zealand, the milder swine flu has simply brushed aside the far deadlier seasonal flu. In essence, swine flu has become our seasonal flu. And a lot fewer of us are going to die this year as a result.

January 29, 2010 05:36 PM  ·  Permalink

WHO swine flu chief caught on video lying about pre-fab pandemic

By Michael Fumento

Even before the World Health Organization declared its phony pandemic last summer, its designated fibber-in-chief has been Keiji Fukuda. Yet I've never been able to catch him a lie so explicit that he couldn't somehow worm out of it. Till now.

Thus when he said (and still does), the virus may be mild now but it could mutate to become worse I would point out that this would be the first time a flu virus has suddenly changed course like that. But technically he was right. Finally, I've caught him with his nose stretched out three feet long - and on a vital issue.

As I pointed out upon the WHO's pandemic declaration in June, the previous definition required "enormous numbers of deaths." But the agency desperately wanted a pandemic and swine flu, vastly milder than ordinary flu, clearly didn't fit. So they simply penned a new definition to match swine flu, making deaths irrelevant and explicitly declaring "mild" strains would qualify.

Since flu always strikes throughout the world, the only reasonable distinction between a normal year and a pandemic year is severity. So clearly this was politically motivated, and I've addressed those motivations. They include everything from power grabbing and money grubbing to a hard left agenda of redistributing wealth and instituting "social justice."

Now the WHO is defending itself against charges of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) that it created a "false pandemic" in "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century." To which the WHO disingenuously responds that it is a real pandemic - by its fresh and nonsensical interpretation.

But the WHO can't change what the old definition said. At the PACE hearing, though, Fukuda boldly told the assembled experts, reporters, and, yes, cameramen: "Having severe deaths has never been part of the WHO definition."

Here's a snapshot of the WHO definition, also viewable at the agency's Web site, at the very time swine flu broke out.


Moreover, at a "virtual press conference" ten days earlier, he stated:"Did WHO change its definition of a pandemic? The answer is no, WHO did not change its definition." The man is an arrogant lying machine.

First WHO Director-General Margaret Chan needs to fire Fukuda. And then she needs to fire herself.

January 29, 2010 05:00 PM  ·  Permalink

Flu expert slams WHO pandemic panic-mongering in German magazine interview

By Michael Fumento

I missed this interview when it came out in the German magazine Der Spiegel in July, but it's still relevant. Unfortunately, even though the interview subject Tom Jefferson of the esteemed Cochrane Collaboration is an American, you're not going to find anything like this in a U.S. publication. Our media bought into the scare lock, stock, and virion and they're not going to admit they were wrong. Herewith some excerpts.

Thomas Jefferson

SPIEGEL: Do you consider the swine flu to be particularly worrisome?

Jefferson : It's true that influenza viruses are unpredictable, so it does call for a certain degree of caution. But one of the extraordinary features of this influenza - and the whole influenza saga - is that there are some people who make predictions year after year, and they get worse and worse. None of them so far have come about, and these people are still there making these predictions. For example, what happened with the bird flu, which was supposed to kill us all? Nothing. But that doesn't stop these people from always making their predictions. Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur.

SPIEGEL: Who do you mean? The World Health Organization (WHO)?

Jefferson: The WHO and public health officials, virologists and the pharmaceutical companies. They've built this machine around the impending pandemic. And there's a lot of money involved, and influence, and careers, and entire institutions! And all it took was one of these influenza viruses to mutate to start the machine grinding.

SPIEGEL: Do you think the WHO declared a pandemic prematurely?

Jefferson: Don't you think there's something noteworthy about the fact that the WHO has changed its definition of pandemic? The old definition was a new virus, which went around quickly, for which you didn't have immunity, and which created a high morbidity and mortality rate. Now the last two have been dropped, and that's how swine flu has been categorized as a pandemic.

January 27, 2010 06:54 PM  ·  Permalink

WHO squealing like a pig over charges it fabricated the flu "pandemic"

By Michael Fumento

The WHO has suddenly gone from a cackling Chicken Little crying "The Sky is Falling!" to squealing like a stuck pig, in response to charges (such as I've been making since day one) that it fabricated a pandemic. "The world is going through a real pandemic. The description of it as a fake is wrong and irresponsible," the agency claims on its website.

A WHO spokesman declined to spell out whom the World Health Organization was responding to in its statement, saying merely that "this applies to anyone who believes it is not a real pandemic."

But as I've previously noted, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, described as a "human rights watchdog" recently recommended that the European Union investigate WHO's swine flu pandemic declaration to see if the health agency acted under undue influence. Indeed, the chairman of its influential health committee, who is an epidemiologist, has referred to what he calls the "false pandemic" as "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century."

To be sure, swine flu has proved to be vastly milder than ordinary seasonal flu. And in fact we knew that (and I wrote about it) before the WHO ever made its pandemic declaration. Yet spokesman Gregory Hartl told the AP this was irrelevant, because "A pandemic has nothing to do with severity or number of deaths," rather it just means a global spread of a disease."

But as I've written, that's only because the WHO changed the definition of "flu pandemic." "A previous official definition (and widely used unofficial one)," I noted, "required 'simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.' Severity - that is, the number - is crucial, because seasonal flu always causes worldwide simultaneous epidemics.

But in May, in what it admitted was a direct response to the outbreak of swine flu the month before, it promulgated a new definition that simply eliminated severity as a factor.

They're saying "We weren't caught with our hands in the cookie jar because we labeled those Oreos 'rocks.'"

Why? The initial reason is that this is the same WHO that for five years screamed that the sky was falling over avian flu - again even as people like me said it was nonsense. So when swine flu came along, they seized the opportunity to scratch out "avian" and insert "swine." Add to that the obvious incentives for budget-enhancing and power grabbing. But bizarrely enough, the WHO even saw the chance for economic and social engineering.

In a September speech WHO Director-General Chan said "ministers of health" should take advantage of the "devastating impact" swine flu will have on poorer nations to tell "heads of state and ministers of finance, tourism and trade" that:

  • The belief that "living conditions and health status of the poor would somehow automatically improve as countries modernized, liberalized their trade and improved their economies" is false. Wealth doesn't equal health.
  • "Changes in the functioning of the global economy" are needed to "distribute wealth on the basis of" values "like community, solidarity, equity and social justice."
  • "The international policies and systems that govern financial markets, economies, commerce, trade and foreign affairs have not operated with fairness as an explicit policy objective."

    This is no longer a health agency, it views its function as agit-prop. It's time to start over with people who see disease as something to combat, not to exploit.

    January 25, 2010 06:12 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Jan. 24, 2010 - Swine flu appears to be sweeping aside seasonal flu

    By Michael Fumento

    Reported infections, deaths, hospitalizations all down. Again, though, when adjusted for the time lag they were probably the same as last week. The only thing that still interests me is the percentage of non-swine flu infections. That's because, as I've noted, in countries like Australia and New Zealand, swine flu simply swept the seasonal flu aside. The result was a tremendous reduction in flu deaths as the milder swine flu inoculated people against the deadlier seasonal flu.


    I repeatedly predicted we would see the same here and again this week we see evidence of that. Of the infections reported to the CDC labs last week, only four were clearly not swine flu. And here we are in mid-January, approaching what is normally the peak of seasonal flu season (mid-February).

    Here's a report from the Jan. 20 Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

    "In ordinary years, the first seasonal flu cases typically show up in December and start mounting in January, said Richard Danila, deputy state epidemiologist. But so far, "there's been virtually zero" confirmed cases of seasonal influenza, he said. 'It's really surprising.'" [Ahem! It wouldn't be if he'd been reading my material!]

    Danila said he's never seen seasonal flu wait this long to make an appearance, adding: "But no one's willing to say that it won't come."

    Flu experts speculate the H1N1 virus may end up wiping out other strains of flu, in classic Darwinian fashion.

    "Seasonal flu didn't find a niche and still hasn't found a niche yet of susceptible people," Danila said.

    January 24, 2010 11:00 AM  ·  Permalink

    More swine flu hysteria apologism - "a stunning public health success"

    By Michael Fumento

    In response to my Philadelphia Inquirer piece "Swine Flu Epidemic Ends with a Whimper," predictably public health community members have squealed that the only reason the disease proved so mild is because of their own Herculean efforts. I saw the same thing with heterosexual AIDS and SARS. So it was that Steven J. Barrer, M.D. wrote to the newspaper:

    Michael Fumento's assertion that the swine flu epidemic predicted for this flu season was a medical scandal ignores the enormous effort of the country's public-health sector to mitigate the potential seriousness of this disease.

    Vaccine production was accelerated, public education was aggressive, and awareness was heightened worldwide. Every physician I know made an effort to educate patients. Fumento also belittles simple efforts such as hand sanitizer, but that, and frequent hand-washing, muffling sneezes in your arm rather than hand, and minimizing casual physical contact, are widely credited with reducing the spread of contagious disease.

    They are among the efforts hospitals are using, successfully, to reduce their infection rates.

    Diseases don't go away. We just get better at dealing with them. I consider the mildness of this flu season a stunning public-health success.

    Yet as my piece noted the epidemic peaked in mid-October, before anybody was vaccinated. It also observed that Australia and New Zealand had remarkably mild epidemics that ended before any vaccine was available.

    Hand sanitizer and handwashing appears to have no impact on the spread of flu, as this article discusses. I found a recent medical journal article claiming to show that it does help, but when you actually look at their data you see they provided good evidence that it does not. If that's the best they can do, it tells you something.

    Handwashing was basically thrown at the public as a talisman and because, lacking a vaccine, the public health community and especially the CDC felt it had to offer something for the public to do, even if it was worthless. (Also, handwashing does protect against colds and food poisoning.)

    In light of this, it's hard to see how mealy-mouthed terms like "aggressiveness" and "awareness" played any role. The simple fact, as I took great pains to note, is that swine flu has a vastly milder impact on the immune system than seasonal flu. I've even explained why, that we've been exposed to H1N1 viruses as part of the seasonal flu since 1997. That also explains why children are disproportionately affected. Where did I first write this? In the pages of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    So that's it. End of ball game. The WHO knew the score when it declared its pandemic. And doctors like Barrer could have known this because they had access to the same medical literature that I had access to in which fatality rates were compared - and he had access to my previous Philly Inquirer piece that also discussed these rates. I did Barrer's research for him.

    Finally, diseases obviously do just go away. Every year, in countries with or with flu vaccine, in times before vaccines existed, influenza has struck, crested, and then faded away. What did medical science do to make the Spanish flu disappear in 1919?

    Public health has done many wonderful things in this country. How much do you worry about smallpox, malaria, tuberculosis, yellow fever, or any number of other diseases that used to sweep through this country periodically like a scythe? But the swine flu hoax is a serious black eye - as was hetero AIDS, SARS, and most recently avian flu - and no amount of wriggling and rationalization will change that.

    January 19, 2010 12:05 PM  ·  Permalink

    "Swine Flu Epidemic ends with a Whimper," my Philly Inquirer piece

    By Michael Fumento

    Hidden within the latest edition of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's FluView was this sentence: "The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was below the epidemic threshold."

    That's right: The great American swine flu epidemic - which led to two proclaimed national emergencies and thousands of spooky news stories - has ended with a whimper.

    Read about it in my new Philadelphia Inquirer article.

    January 15, 2010 06:29 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Jan. 14 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing this week

    By Michael Fumento

    Infections are down, hospitalizations are down and deaths are the same. But given the reporting time lag it should prove that these were all about the same as last week. Last week one state reported widespread flu, this week none do. As I've written, we're now at an endemic stage where cases pretty much trot along at the same pace. Again, it might pick up some in February because that's when it gets coldest and flu, unlike your humble blogger, loves cold weather.

    "I'm just plumb tuckered out!"

    Only 1.4% of infections reported were clearly not swine flu, indicating that so far, as I've reported has been the case in Australia and New Zealand, swine flu is muscling aside the deadlier seasonal flu strains - and hence will make for a light flu season.

    The CDC has also released a new estimate of infections and deaths, namely 55 million and 11,161 respectively since last April. That keeps the death rate about about 1 per 5,000 or a third to a tenth that of seasonal flu. Meanwhile the World Health Organization is defending itself against charges that it created a phony pandemic, including using the predictable line that one reason the flu has proved so mild is because the WHO did such a splendid job! I address that lunacy elsewhere.

    It's getting kind of dull in here, folks. So I'm discontinuing the weekly watch but I will keep blogging and otherwise writing on the faux pandemic.

    January 15, 2010 04:48 PM  ·  Permalink

    Gag me. Public health establishment takes credit for mildness of swine flu season

    By Michael Fumento

    Inevitably when pandemic doom fails to pan out, whether it be heterosexual AIDS, SARS, avian flu, or anything else the public health establishment that panicked everyone will claim that the only reason their predictions didn't prevail was fast action on their part. So it was inevitable with swine flu, as we're told in an article with the sub-headline: "If You Warn of An H1N1 Epidemic But Stop It, Do You Get Credit?"

    Professor Robert Field of the Drexel University School of Public Health tells ABC News online that his poor fellows were, as the piece put it, "damned if they do and damned if they don't." According to the story, with the subtitle of "Public health officials faced a tough choice in May and June," "to some extent, we may be seeing a milder epidemic than we feared because of the vaccine and other measures people are taking" says Field.

    Pouring on the unmitigated gall, he added: "It's so easy to be a victim of your own success."

    As they say in The Valley, "Gag me with a spoon!" As I've written, the epidemic here peaked in mid-October. Nobody had vaccine immunity in this country then. Nobody. Australia and New Zealand had incredibly mild flu seasons even though almost all of the flu was of the H1N1 swine variety and there was no vaccine even available until the seasons ended. Even now, relatively few Americans have gotten the shot and according to news accounts they're not going to. More and more are claiming they've been bamboozled.

    Moreover, there were people in May and June who relayed evidence that swine flu was proving to be extremely mild. Well, there was one person at least. Me.

    My first published article on the subject, with the telling title "The Price of a Porcine Panic," appeared June 1. I said it would ridiculous for the WHO to declare a pandemic, and as soon as it did I wrote why it had been ridiculous. It was obviously milder than seasonal flu, when heretofore flu pandemics were defined by extreme severity.

    Later on, as the data, came in, I documented how vastly milder swine flu was. This was before the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology made its incredible prediction of 30,000 to 90,000 deaths.

    No, the public health establishment bungled at best and lied at worst. I've written 14 articles at countless blogs about it. Don't let them off the hook this time.

    January 12, 2010 06:23 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Jan. 8 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing this week

    By Michael Fumento

    These things just keep getting briefer and briefer. Infections down, deaths down to only 14, states with widespread activity: just one.

    Updating you on an earlier blog, the chairman of the influential health committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has asked the body to investigate what he calls the WHO's "false pandemic." An epidemiologist no less, he calls it "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century."

    You heard it here first, folks!

    January 8, 2010 06:37 PM  ·  Permalink

    "Was Swine Flu a False Pandemic?"

    By Michael Fumento

    No, that's not Michael Fumento asking. It's a pharmaceutical industry blog declaring, "That's the contention by more than a dozen members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which reportedly plans to conduct an inquiry into the influence that drug makers may have had on the World Health Organization, scientists and governments. A resolution was introduced last month by Wolfgang Wodarg, a member of Germany's Social Democratic Party who chairs the Parliamentary health committee."

    I won't weigh in on the secondary question. Lots of people had a hand in pushing a pandemic. But it remains that the World Health Organization was given and took upon itself sole authority to actually declare the pandemic. That's where initial attention should be focused. They rewrote the definition so that they could declare what was clearly a very mild strain of flu to be the first pandemic in 40 years, causing a cascade of events that haunts us still and will do so long into the future. They need to be called to account.

    January 4, 2010 08:12 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Dec. 30 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing

    By Michael Fumento

    It's a holiday so we'll make this quick.

    Somehow hospitalizations and deaths managed to keep falling.
    Infections have somehow managed to drop again as have deaths and hospitalizations. Just 15 deaths reported this past week, versus 257 a week for seasonal flu during the season. Only four states reported widespread flu activity. Early January is when seasonal flu normally really gets going so we might see something of a bounce up in the next couple of weeks, especially since at 15 deaths there's nowhere to go but up. But it shouldn't be by much. Swine flu came in 2009 like a piglet and went out like a piglet.

    January 2, 2010 11:40 AM  ·  Permalink

    Swine flu also unexceptional in contagiousness

    By Michael Fumento

    With a massive amount of data indicating swine flu is vastly milder than seasonal flu, a new study in the New England Journal of Medicine also puts the kibosh on the claims that it spreads like gangbusters.

    Researchers found that in households in which one person had swine flu it spread to 10 percent of other household members. During the flu pandemics of 1957 and 1968, 14 percent to 20 percent of household members were infected while normal seasonal flu spreads to 5 percent to 40 percent of the rest of the family.

    In other words, once again we see there is absolutely nothing "pandemic" about swine flu. It's a term the World Health Organization applied to serve its own interests. It would serve our interests to replace the WHO with a body that cares more about health than politics and power-seeking.

    December 30, 2009 06:42 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Dec. 24 - The U.S. Epidemic is Over

    By Michael Fumento

    The Big Scare of 2009 is over, folks. The U.S. swine flu epidemic has ended.
    "The proportion of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza (P&I) was below the epidemic threshold," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website Fluview and this chart shows it.

    End of the epidemic

    New infections continued to drop this week to only 306 reported by CDC-monitored labs, compared to 1,370 just three weeks before and 11,470 at the height of the epidemic. That's a plummet of over 97% from the height. Deaths and hospitalizations have plumetted to merely 20 and 313 respectively, compared to 85 and 982 just a week earlier and compared to 189 and 4,970 at the peak in October.

    Remember that according to CDC estimates, about 257 Americans die of seasonal flu per day during flu season. Mind you, the swine flu deaths are actual while the seasonal flu ones are estimates so it's not a completely apples-to-apples comparison.
    Only 7 states still report widespread activity, down from 11 last week. The American College Health Association did not report new numbers this week, presumably because of the Christmas holiday.

    Repeat, the swine flu epidemic is over.

    So where do we go from here? No, unfortunately not to zero. Instead we're at what's called an "endemic" level. We can expect infections, hospitalizations, and deaths to continue at something the same rate as this last week until the end of flu season in April.

    Judging by what we've seen so far in the U.S. and the experiences in New Zealand and Australia, we are in for an extremely mild flu season overall. That's because swine flu is more contagious than the far deadlier seasonal flu, essentially muscling it aside. People inoculated with swine flu infection don't get the seasonal flu.

    So while you may recall all those "excess" deaths we were supposed to be getting from swine flu (30,000 to 90,000 according to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and "89,000 to 207,000" according to flu book author John Barry in a Washington Post op-ed, we will actually get far fewer flu deaths overall both worldwide and in the U.S. because of swine flu.

    While the media are finally beginning to admit that the World Health Organization's swine flu "pandemic," made possible only by completely redefining the definition, may be the mildest in history, they are not willing to admit that we will actually have fewer flu deaths internationally because of this alleged pandemic.

    December 27, 2009 11:05 AM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Dec. 18 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing this Week

    By Michael Fumento

    New infections continued to drop, down this week to only 391 reported by CDC-monitored labs, compared to 1,370 just two weeks before and 11,470 at the height of the epidemic. So that's a plummet of over 96% from the height. Deaths and hospitalizations are less than half those of last week, and while formerly the CDC refrained from releasing exact numbers it's now doing so. So the exact number of deaths for last week is 56.

    Remember that according to CDC estimates, about 257 Americans die of seasonal flu per day during flu season. Of course, the swine flu deaths are actual while the seasonal flu ones are estimates so it's not a completely apples-to-apples comparison.

    Only 11 states still report widespread activity, down slightly from 14 last weeks.

    Finally, cases do continue to come in at above the epidemic threshold nationally. On college campuses it's a different picture, though. College cases of CDC-defined "influenza-like illness" are definitely at an endemic level, having dropped all the way down to 4.1 cases per 10,000 slightly up to 5.2 and then slightly down to 3.4 They should stay more or less in that range for the rest of the flu season with perhaps higher cases coming in February at the peak of the normal seasonal flu season. Colleges are still reporting only three deaths out of more than 87,000 cases.

    No, swine flu isn't doing much this week. And that's its future. It's just plain lazy, happy to roll around in the mud while infecting impressive numbers of people but killing very few. Too bad it can't kill the reputations of the doomsayers who declared it a "pandemic" and compared it to the horrible Spanish flu of 1918-1919.

    December 18, 2009 12:38 PM  ·  Permalink

    Washington Post Back to Pushing Avian Flu Panic

    By Michael Fumento

    Remember avian flu?

    Until swine flu came along, that's what was going to wipe out mankind. My last unprinted letter to the Washington Post scored the paper's opinions page for declaring "panic is good . . . panic is what we want," for claiming swine flu could kill 207,000 Americans and nine to 10 million worldwide, and for refusing to print anything to the contrary. Well, with the swine flu hysteria dying down in light of very few humans, dying the Post in desperation is switching back to the bird variety. And, true to form rejecting sane letters such as this one of mine.

    To the editor:

    The review of Alan Sipress's book "The Fatal Strain: On the Trail of Avian Flu and the Coming Pandemic" (December 6, 2009) is misleading in one important respect and terribly wrong in another.

    While writer David Oshinsky states humans have been contracting avian flu H5N1 for a decade without it becoming readily transmissible between humans, according to the World Health Organization it was first detected in Scottish poultry in 1959. Hence it's been making contact with humans for at least half a century. Oshinky says "a sort of mutation, common to influenza viruses" could "produce an H5N1 variant that is transmissible." But an exhaustive 2007 lab study in the Oct. 2007 issue of Virology showed,
    in the words of the researcher leader, "We think [H5N1] will need to get to 13
    [mutations] to be truly dangerous."

    Oshinsky also wrongly parrots Sipress's assertion that for H5N1 "the mortality rate has been a staggering 60 percent." That's based solely on those who come into contact with the medical system, thereby excluding those with milder symptoms. Consider that the recent CDC estimate of swine flu includes 4,000 deaths, 98,000 hospitalizations, and 22 million infections. So the ratio of deaths to hospitalizations was one in 24 but to overall infections was
    merely one in 5,500.

    Indeed, a January 2006 Archives of Internal Medicine study found extremely high rates of apparent bird flu illness among Vietnamese living and working in close proximity to infected poultry, yet by definition none of
    these people had died.

    There, now! Nothing in that letter that could possibly be of interest to Post readers!

    December 14, 2009 01:36 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Dec. 11 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing this Week

    By Michael Fumento

    New infections are way down this week to only about 480 reported by CDC-monitored labs, compared to 1,370 just the week before and 11,470 at the height of the epidemic. So that's a drop of 65% in one week and a plummet of 96% from the height. Deaths are the same as last week at what appear to be about 70 (you can only eyeball the bar graph, the CDC doesn't release exact figures), while hospitalizations appear to have been cut by about half. Remember that according to CDC estimates, about 257 Americans die of seasonal flu per day during flu season - which is what we're in. Of course, the bar graphs show counted deaths versus estimated deaths so it's not a completely apples-to-apples comparison.

    Only 14 states still report widespread activity, although expect to see that go up again shortly as we're about to enter the time of year when seasonal flu normally begins to hit hard. Finally, cases do continue to come in at above the epidemic threshold. I predicted last week that we might go endemic this week but not yet.

    The American College Health Association's latest weekly survey of CDC-defined "influenza-like illness" shows college campus cases are actually up 27% from the week before, but that's from a low 4.1 cases per 10,000 students to 5.2. This would seem to indicate that the epidemic on campuses has now ended and that we've entered the endemic stage where we can expect numbers like these probably into March. Cumulatively, out of about 87,000 cases reported there have been only three deaths. There have probably been more deaths from goldfish swallowings at fraternity initiations.

    The CDC also released a new estimate, that 50 million Americans have been infected, with more than 200,000 hospitalizations and nearly 10,000 deaths. That's just one death per 5,000 cases. Yet as I've pointed out, that's probably high considering that France's estimate is one per 48,000 infections while Japan's is one per 140,000. Either our health care system really is as bad as some claim or the CDC is playing fast and loose with the figures.

    In any case, the CDC estimates that for seasonal flu it's a death rate ranging from 417 - 1,667 so any way you look at it swine flu is vastly milder. And all of those 50 million Americans have essentially been inoculated against the seasonal flu. We're in for a mild flu season, indeed. The only question is whether they CDC will ultimately admit it.

    December 11, 2009 01:23 PM  ·  Permalink

    File this under "Shocked, shocked!"

    By Michael Fumento

    "Flu Pandemic Could Be Mild" declares the Washington Post headline.

    In fact, the mildest on record.

    Unless, that is, you use the old definition of pandemic before the World Health Organization made it so that severity no longer counts. In that case, this would be called not a "pandemic" but "an extremely mild flu strain.

    Another shocking revelation? It turns out the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology "plausible scenario" of swine flu deaths wasn't all that plausible. Rather than 30,000 - 90,000 Americans dead, a new study by Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch and others calculates "the virus might directly cause between 6,000 and 45,000 deaths by the end of the winter, with the final toll probably falling somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000."

    Insofar as according to the CDC's estimate we already had about 4,000 deaths by mid-October, that means there may not be that many more fatalities. And mind you, those are not net deaths. In other words, it doesn't take into account the protective effect we've seen in Australia and New Zealand whereby people are inoculated by the mild swine flu so they don't die from the vastly more severe seasonal flu. In other words, expect a final toll from flu overall to be fewer cases this year - judging from the aforementioned cases far fewer.

    Lipsitch, not incidentally, helped come up with that notorious 30,000 - 90,000 number.

    Those were the best estimates we could make at the time based on the data available at the time," Lipsitch told the Post. Really? Then how was non-epidemiologist Michael Fumento able to immediately show the figure was utterly absurd?

    Am I some sort of Nostradamus who prefers debunking government studies to making a killing at the race track. Or was the PCAST report clearly nonsense from the outset, designed not to inform but to panic?

    December 7, 2009 07:59 PM  ·  Permalink

    "WHO Should Just Give Up on the Flu Scare," my National Post piece

    By Michael Fumento

    The folks who dubbed the swine flu piglet a pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO), just won't let up.

    "It is too early to say whether there has yet been a peak in infections in the northern hemisphere," Reuters paraphrased the WHO as saying, "and it will be some weeks before there is a downward trend in the numbers of those catching the virus."

    Wrong across the board for both Canada and the U.S.

    In the U.S., flu deaths and hospitalizations have declined for the third straight week, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Regarding Canada specifically, the WHO claims "influenza activity remains similar but [the] number of hospitalizations and deaths is increasing." But Health Canada's FluWatch website, updated weekly, begs to differ.

    Yes, all indicators have been dropping in Canada, as well. Just what part of "all" doesn't the WHO understand? Read more in my National Post article.

    December 5, 2009 07:24 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Dec. 4 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing this Week

    By Michael Fumento

    The epidemic has plunged so far that it's on the borderline of no longer being one. As the red line in the graph shows, it's so far down it's back right on the threshold.

    Deaths are down for the third week in a row and hospitalizations for the fourth week.
    But this last week has been a real doozy, with deaths down by more than two thirds and hospitalizations more than 50%. Only half the states now have "widespread activity." Positive flu samples analyzed at CDC-monitored laboratories are down 92% since the peak of the epidemic, and are at the lowest since flu season began eight weeks ago.

    Finally, the dreaded swine flu continues to not wipe out the younger generation. Reports of CDC-defined "influenza-like illness" are down 69% this week on college campuses just from last week, and are just 14% what they were at the height.

    At this rate, the swine flu epidemic will be over by next week. We'll still have cases, but at an endemic level for the rest of the winter. And expect a very mild season, as I've been saying. Stay tuned for what isn't happening with swine flu!

    December 5, 2009 01:03 PM  ·  Permalink

    What about a "second wave" of swine flu?

    By Michael Fumento

    Mr. Fumento,

    I read your articles religiously. You recently attacked swine flu as hysterical overreaction.

    Is it really? You talk about a bell curve when it comes to epidemics. how about talk of a second wave? Is it really hype as you say? Take a look at this link:

    [It regards swine flu hospitalizations hitting a new high in California.]

    What is your opinion on this?

    This was the second wave, remember? It was predictable because the flu likes cold. After the first wave it got warmer then colder. But now it's just steadily going to get colder. So the next "wave" will be next fall, by which time swine flu will BE our seasonal flu. Which is good, because it's so much milder than the currently seasonal flu strains.

    And regarding the link, there are four measurements of swine flu impact: infections, hospitalizations, deaths, and emergency room visits. Infections and deaths are the same, because they're direct. But with hospitalizations and emergency room visits it simply means somebody made a decision based on worry. Also, the figure applies to only one state albeit the largest state. My data are for the nation as a whole and as of today, they show hospitalization rates have declined for the fourth straight week and indeed are less than half what they were just a week ago.

    December 4, 2009 01:09 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Nov. 30 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing

    By Michael Fumento

    Swine flu is dying. Flu deaths and hospitalizations have declined for the third straight week according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Reported infections have dropped 83% from their peak four weeks ago, and now only 32 states report widespread flu activity compared to 48 at the epidemic height.

    CDC-defined "influenza-like illnesses" on college campuses are about a third what they were just two weeks ago, down from 29 new cases per 10,000 students to just 13.4. In all, 157,000 cases with a mere two deaths. So much for swine flu scything through the young.

    And although the CDC's estimate for U.S. swine flu deaths puts them at a third to a twelfth that of seasonal flu at one in 5,500 cases, the estimate in France is just 1 death per 48,000 cases, while that in Japan is 1 per 140,000. "This little piggie" just keeps looking littler and littler.

    New Zealand risk and policy advisor Ron Law estimates that for health people, the risk of swine flu death is about 1 per 400,000 as opposed to 1 per 7,500 for U.S. auto accidents - and yet many who have panicked over swine flu assuredly don't bother to buckle up.

    That's what hysteria'll do for ya!

    December 1, 2009 12:38 PM  ·  Permalink

    Post Promotes Pig Pandemic Panic . . . and promotes and promotes . . .

    By Michael Fumento

    From an unpublished letter to the editor of the Washington Post.

    "Panic is what we want," declared Anne Applebaum of the swine flu in the Post Opinion pages in May. "Panic is good." The next month John Barry told Opinion readers to expect "89,000 to 207,000" swine flu deaths. In August, Opinions ran Jorge R. Mancillas' piece warning of "between 9 million and 10 million" swine flu deaths worldwide.

    There have been no Opinions pieces critical of swine flu hype.

    Now the CDC estimates that in five and a half months swine flu has killed 4,000 Americans, while plain old seasonal flu annually kills about 36,000 over a five-month season. Worldwide, as of November 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) says only that swine flu is known to have killed over 6,250 people in seven months, even while it estimates seasonal flu kills 4,800 to 9,600 every seven days.

    Aha! But Post economics writer Alan Sipress warns Opinion readers that if the do-nothing avian flu (the WHO says it's been infecting poultry and hence making bird-human contact since at least 1959) were to combine with the lazy swine flu, the outcome could be "savage," a "real nightmare."

    Yes, and if Godzilla could rise from the deep he could destroy Tokyo!

    Enough already! The point is made. And it says nothing about the swine flu but
    everything about the Post Opinions page.

    [Not incidentally, I know the Post refuses to run anti-panic pieces because I sent it two, one of which was rejected but later appeared in the much-larger circulation Los Angeles Times.]

    November 26, 2009 05:00 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Report Nov. 21 and my piece on the epidemic peak in NRO.

    By Michael Fumento

    "Swine flu has killed 540 kids, sickened 22 million Americans," screamed USA Today’s page 1 headline, sub-headed "CDC: Cases, Deaths are Unprecedented." Swine flu cases in the U.S. are rising at the fastest pace for influenza in four decades," breathlessly declares a Bloomberg News article lede. Another article's title referred to a "national swine flu spike."


    Scary stuff! Phony stuff! And a desperate effort to distract from an alarmist media's greatest nightmare: That the epidemic has peaked, as I write in National Review Online.

    Yet the mainstream may possibly, maybe, sorta, be starting to catch on.

    "Health officials say swine flu cases appear to declining throughout most of the U.S.," reports AP.

    But, making evident its reporter hadn't actually bothered to look at the data or try to comprehend it, the story concluded "They say it's hard to know whether the epidemic has peaked or not, and many people will be gathering - and spreading germs - next week at Thanksgiving."

    Well, there you go, there is a possible exception to the rule of infectious disease epidemic curves known as Farr's law. It's called "Thanksgiving."

    November 20, 2009 08:42 PM  ·  Permalink

    "Flu cocktail plague" hits Ukraine!

    By Michael Fumento

    "A cocktail of three flu viruses are reported to have mutated into a single pneumonic plague, which it is believed may be far more dangerous than swine flu," reports London's Daily Express. "The death toll has reached 189 and more than 1 million people have been infected, most of them in the nine regions of Western Ukraine."

    According to the paper, President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko said: "People are dying. The epidemic is killing doctors. This is absolutely inconceivable in the 21st Century."

    That's right! Heretofore, taking the Hippocratic oath immunized you against the flu. Or at least in the 21st Century. Not any longer!

    As to that death toll, it may possibly be above that of swine flu but it's well below that of good ol' garden-variety seasonal flu. And no, there's no such things as a cocktail of three viruses. How do I know? Trust me, I know. Among other things the president reportedly refers to one of the viruses as "the California flu."

    No such animal. Er, virus.

    Ah, hysteria! Nothing like it!

    November 16, 2009 06:54 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Nov. 14 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing This Week

    By Michael Fumento

    Yes, even as the media twist and turn the numbers in the new CDC estimate (about which I'll be publishing an article) the evidence continues to come in that swine flu in the U.S. has peaked and is sliding down the right side of the epidemic slope.

    Swine flu infections have plummeted
    Swine flu infections have plummeted

    Here we see a sharp decline in both new deaths and hospitalizations.

    Last week there was a massive decline in samples submitted to the CDC surveillance labs and a small decline in those testing positive. This week the bottom fell out. Samples submitted have gone from about 26,000 to 21,000 to just 13,000. Almost 39% of those samples were positive two weeks ago; now it's just 30%. Put another way, the CDC labs received 10,076 positive samples two weeks ago, 7,557 last week, and just 3,834 this week. That's a plunge of over 60% in just two weeks!

    Even hysteria seems to have peaked - if only ever so slightly. Last week just under 8% of all emergency room visits were for those ubiquitous "flu-like symptoms." This week, it's just under 7%. Not exactly a 60% drop in the last three weeks, but then the media are laboring mightily to prop up those figures.

    College infections have are still essentially flat.

    In other countries, at least, it seems people are starting to catch on. London's Independent newspaper asks: "Pandemic? What Pandemic?" It gives the following figures:

    Number of deaths in worst-case scenario for Britain published in July

    19,000 Revised worst-case scenario outlined in September

    1,000 Revised worst-case scenario last month

    154 Number of deaths in Britain so far

    4-8,000 Average annual death toll in Britain from seasonal winter flu

    But in America we remain with wool firmly pulled over eyes. Still, some are having fun with all this. Check out this neat swine flu music video, "The Swine Flu Blues!"

    November 13, 2009 06:08 PM  ·  Permalink

    Yes, I will be posting about the new CDC swine flu estimates

    By Michael Fumento

    At a glance, though, the estimates look okay; it's the spin and the lack of perspective that I have trouble with. And while the media have missed it, they also show an extremely low case-fatality ratio compared to seasonal flu.

    According to the CDC, seasonal flu causes 15 to 60 million infections yearly with 36,000 resulting deaths, for a fatality rate ranging from 0.06% to 0.24%. It now estimates that since the swine flu outbreak began there have been 22 million cases causing 4000 deaths, for a fatality rate of 0.0182%. So the death rate from seasonal flu is about three to 12 times higher.

    It estimates there have been 540 child deaths - those under age 18. But if just 3% of seasonal flu deaths were in children it would come out to 1,080 deaths.

    Once again, it's much squealing about very little.

    November 13, 2009 10:36 AM  ·  Permalink

    Not without honor except in his own home . . .

    By Michael Fumento

    I'm a hit in the Czech Republic, a land renowned for beautiful architecture and even more beautiful women. Well, at least I got mentioned in a Czech language publication, CDN.CZ, which roughly states:

    Other data collected by Michael Fumento from the Washington Times, reveal that people are panicked in the U.S. to seven percent of all visitors to clinics! Most of those who not been affected by H1N1 virus. And they have struck again with such weak signs that do not require hospitalization. By going to the crowded hospital, may greatly help the spread of disease.

    Actually, it never occurred to me that mildly ill people going to emergency rooms were spreading the disease to the worried well. But obviously that must be the case. It's a false attribution I embrace! God bless the Czech Republic!

    And those beautiful women.

    November 12, 2009 11:28 AM  ·  Permalink

    "The Swine Flu Boogeyman," my piece in Forbes Online

    By Michael Fumento

    "The boogeyman will get you!" parents sometimes tell misbehaving children. With about 40% of parents saying "no!" to vaccinating their kids for swine flu, apparently health officials think turnabout is fair play. And the media seem happy to help.

    Of the many things that might harm your baby, swine flu is thankfully way down on the list.

    Of the many things that might harm your baby, swine flu is thankfully way down on the list.

    You see it in such headlines as "CDC Shocker: Swine Flu Killing Young People at Record Rate!" And in lines of panicked parents queued outside vaccine clinics like fans trying to score tickets to a Paul McCartney concert. And in schools closing willy-nilly, which could cost the nation tens of billions, according to a recent Brookings Institute study.

    Which is so sad, because this boogeyman is not much more substantial than the legendary one. And adding the proverbial insult to injury, parents are told they must get their children vaccines that - because of the shortage and despite Obama administration promises - they can't get.

    Read about it in my new piece in Forbes Online.

    November 8, 2009 06:51 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Nov. 7 - What Swine Flu ISN'T Doing This Week

    By Michael Fumento

    Well, what swine flu isn't doing this week is apparently less than what it wasn't doing last week. In other words, it appears to have peaked.

    CDC data show both hospitalizations and deaths going down.

    How do we know?
    Here we see it's going down the right side of the bell curve both in terms of deaths and hospitalizations.

    And there's both a massive decline in samples submitted to CDC surveillance labs and a small decline in those testing positive.

    College infections have essentially gone flat.

    And finally we see from the Australian swine flu data in figures 1,2, and 7 that swine flu does indeed resemble the normal epidemiological curve. Once cases start going down they keep going down.

    Unfortunately, the "hysteria curve" as indicated by emergency room visits is still at the highest level in the century. You can probably credit the Obama administration declaration of a "national emergency" for that.

    November 7, 2009 07:02 PM  ·  Permalink

    Swine flu "survivor" speaks out on media hype

    By Michael Fumento

    From a letter to the editor of the Washington Post:

    It is ridiculous that The Post has dedicated so much of the A section the past several weeks to the swine flu outbreak. Being a young "survivor" of the swine flu, I have to say that it was the most anticlimactic experience I have ever had. No deathbed, no fever.

    The way the media continue to portray the virus is creating unnecessary panic around the world. Many people infected with the virus don't even know they have it. The public should be outraged at news outlets that have caused mass hysteria and a mad rush for vaccines, medication and hand sanitizer.

    Unfortunately, right now they're too busy being outraged at the lack of the promised vaccine. But hopefully the day will come. Until then, you can read my bevy of swine flu anti-hype articles.

    November 3, 2009 12:00 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch Oct. 31 - What swine flu ISN'T doing this week

    By Michael Fumento

    It's Halloween, and the monster at the door is swine flu. Or so we're told. Yet again. And people respond accordingly.

    chart of flu cases"I've never seen it like this," an administrator at Dunwoody Pediatrics in suburban Atlanta told USA Today. "That name, H1N1, sends parents into a panic. We've had a lot of verbal abuse." And yet there's evidence the epidemic may have peaked!

    The CDC reports that hospitalizations for the week ending October 24 barely increased while deaths are actually down from the week before.

    So when the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology August report said its "plausible scenario" showed 30,000 - 90,000 swine flu deaths peaking in "mid-October" it may have been part right - though not the part everybody was worried about.

    The Flu Count Website shows 1,200 U.S. deaths since the early April outbreak according to media reports. Worldwide it shows only 7,000. (Unfortunately, the site also says it provides official CDC numbers, though I verified that it does not.) That's about the number the CDC estimates who die of seasonal flu every five days during season and worldwide the number who die of seasonal flu every seven days.

    On campuses cases rose last week by a third according to the American College Health Association, but the number of cases per student isn't dramatically higher than it was in the second week of September.

    The percentage of positive tests picked up by the CDC's surveillance laboratories is also the highest it's been this fall at 42 percent. Yet the panic factor, as measured by the percentage of visits to emergency rooms and outpatient clinics by people worried they have the flu - and worried enough to seek medical attention - is astounding at over 8 percent. That's the highest it's been this century.

    With the Obama Administration declaring a national emergency and New York's governor declaring a state emergency, panic begat panic. The perpetual motion machine of fear drives on.

    October 31, 2009 05:00 PM  ·  Permalink

    New York declares swine flu state of emergency!

    By Michael Fumento

    Emulating the Obama Administration, New York Gov. David Paterson has "declared a state of emergency, saying a recent rise in swine flu cases has created a 'disaster,'" according to the Associated Press.

    122 mm shell
    The Guv shows his stuff.

    The executive order suspends state law and allows more health care professionals to administer vaccines.

    The emergency? AP says at least 75 residents have died of swine flu in the last seven months. By comparison, given its population size we'd expect over 2,200 New York residents to die annually of seasonal flu.

    Total reported New York cases are 2,738 cases according to Flucount; whereas again going by its population and CDC estimates New York probably has over 12,000 seasonal flu hospitalizations each year.

    So where's the fire, governor?

    Yet the underlying reality is that, as I noted in my IBD article "Obama Administration's Flu Fearmongering," emergency rooms are being swamped with the worried well and the slightly ill. But it's precisely because of such things as emergency proclamations.

    As it happens, there are plenty of people who can administer vaccines, just very little vaccine to distribute. What the governor should do is to tell his constituents the truth about swine flu, that data from New York City show that at worst swine flu kills only a tenth the percentage of people as seasonal flu.

    But the truth just makes government look bad, as opposed to being the peoples' savior. So instead, the governor injects another dose of hysteria.

    October 29, 2009 06:27 PM  ·  Permalink

    Why did Obama declare a health emergency with no emergency

    By Michael Fumento

    As I note in my Investor's Business Daily article, swine flu cases in the last seven months, according to the CDC, equal about four days' worth of seasonal flu deaths during the season.

    122 mm shell
    This is no ordinary flu, it's Hogzilla! After all, if you're going to save the populace from a monster you want it to be as big as possible.

    There's no medical emergency except that emergency facilities are swamped with the worried well and the mildly ill. Why? Because of the Obama administration's first swine flu emergency declaration and the report from the President's Council of Science and Technology Advisors predicting up to 90,000 deaths.

    And guess what reaction this latest proclamation is provoking?

    So why did they do it?

    You might ask H.L. Mencken, who observed that government, ever seeks "to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

    October 28, 2009 10:09 PM  ·  Permalink

    Yes, I am writing on Obama's swine flu "emergency"

    By Michael Fumento

    And yes, the "emergency" is a bunch of hog droppings.

    October 25, 2009 11:45 AM  ·  Permalink

    I yell "Sooo-eeeeee!" on G. Gordon Liddy Show Today

    By Michael Fumento

    I bent G. Gordon Liddy's ears back today on his radio show (easy to find them, given his lack of hair) on my current crusade to get people to understand that it's not just that the risk of swine flu has been exaggerated but that it's being exaggerated for political reasons. Even battle-hardened veterans like Liddy are surprised to hear that the World Health Organization didn't create a pre-fab pandemic just to gather more power and increase its budget but rather is using it to promote social engineering and redistribution of wealth between nations, as I noted in Forbes Online.

    Yes, it really is that bad.

    October 21, 2009 04:33 PM  ·  Permalink

    "Swine flu Piglet 'pandemic'," my WashTimes article

    By Michael Fumento

    Just eight weeks ago headlines screamed: "Swine Flu May Cause 90,000 U.S. Deaths." They came from a so-called "plausible scenario" in a report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which was actually a range of 30,000 to 90,000. And they expected it to peak . . . right now.

    The President's Council is led by Obama's controversial "science czar" John Holdren, - who co-authored one book with Population Bomb guru Paul Ehrlich advocating U.S. "de-development" and another suggesting compulsory measures to reduce the population. The Council's conclusion this time was as bogus as Holdren-Ehrlich conclusions back then. Read why.

    College campus cases are the lowest in a month.

    October 21, 2009 12:18 PM  ·  Permalink

    Flu Watch IV - What swine flu ISN'T doing this week

    By Michael Fumento

    Total deaths since Aug. 30 from "Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated" illness are 2,029 reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site FluView. But only 292 of those have been laboratory-confirmed as flu of any type. (And yes, people die of pneumonia from many causes other than flu.) By comparison, the CDC estimates about 260 Americans die each day from "regular" flu during each season.

    And the Swine Flu Count Website shows about as many swine flu deaths worldwide in the last six months as the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates die every six days from seasonal flu. The FluTracker Web site provides a running tally of new worldwide cases and deaths, telling us they are no more frequent than a month ago.

    The massive outbreak on college campuses you've been heard about? The American College Health Association's latest weekly survey at this writing shows a steady decline in cases over the last four weeks. The "explosion" has been imploding.

    What we're seeing is "pandemic panic." FluView reports that only 29 percent of samples from surveillance laboratories are testing positive for swine flu. That means that fewer than a third of the samples that even doctors (much less scared patients) suspect may show swine flu actually show influenza of any type.

    Another indicator of hysteria is that the percentage of visits to emergency rooms and outpatient clinics by people worried they have the flu - and worried enough to seek medical attention - is incredibly high: almost 7 percent of all US emergency visits now.

    That's the most it's been since 2004 and it's skyrocketing.

    I predicted the Council's projections regarding swamped emergency rooms would be the only accurate part of the report. Don't call me Nostradamus. Just a guy with a few IQ points and a modicum of honesty.

    October 18, 2009 06:09 PM  ·  Permalink

    "The Pandemic Is Political," my article in Forbes Online

    By Michael Fumento

    As evidence continues to mount that swine flu is more of a piglet than a raging razorback, why isn't curiosity mounting as to why the World Health Organization declared it a pandemic? And definitions aside, why does the agency continue to insist we're going to get hammered?

    As I write in my new article, it just might be related to a speech the WHO chief gave last months in which she said "ministers of health" should take advantage of the "devastating impact" swine flu will have on poorer nations to tell "heads of state and ministers of finance, tourism and trade" that:

    • The belief that "living conditions and health status of the poor would somehow automatically improve as countries modernized, liberalized their trade and improved their economies" is false. Wealth doesn't equal health.

    • "Changes in the functioning of the global economy" are needed to "distribute wealth on the basis of" values "like community, solidarity, equity and social justice."

    • "The international policies and systems that govern financial markets, economies, commerce, trade and foreign affairs have not operated with fairness as an explicit policy objective."
    There's a lot of WHO dirty underwear revealed in this piece. Wear a clothespin while you read it.

    October 18, 2009 12:10 PM  ·  Permalink

    Swine flu shows again the answer to big government problems is bigger government

    By Michael Fumento

    Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, granting that swine flu "has proven to be relatively mild so far," nevertheless says it shows how poor many aspects of our public health care system are. The answer: Support Obamacare legislation and throw money at the problem.

    "The good news," writes Milbank

    is that there's a provision in the House version of the health-care reform bill, written by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), that would fix much of the problem. Now, state and local public health departments get federal grants only for specific diseases and conditions, which makes it difficult to maintain a core public health infrastructure. Waxman would solve this by spending $1.3 billion a year on overall public health -- and in exchange for the cash, state and local health departments would have to meet minimum standards for such basic things as laboratories, disease surveillance and vaccine delivery. A national accreditation board would enforce the standards.

    In other words, reward an inefficient government bureaucracy by giving it more money and - presto, chango! - it becomes efficient.

    When pigs fly.

    October 11, 2009 07:05 PM  ·  Permalink

    No "Weekly Flu Watch" this week

    By Michael Fumento

    See instead my article "Swine Flu: the Real Threat Is Panic," from the New York Post.

    October 11, 2009 08:45 AM  ·  Permalink

    How did the President's Council swine flu scenario measure up?

    By Michael Fumento

    Sorta depends on who you ask.

    The read about the flu in the mainstream media, you would think men are going through the streets with carts calling "Bring out your dead." But to look at the statistics, there's not even an epidemic yet. Read my article in the New York Post. "Swine Flu: the Real Threat Is Panic."

    October 11, 2009 08:28 AM  ·  Permalink

    World's largest country reports first swine flu death

    By Michael Fumento

    Six months into the swine flu outbreak China, with a population of over 1.3 billion or a fifth of the word's population, has just reported its first swine flu death?

    According to the WHO, 250,000 - 500,000 people worldwide die of seasonal flu each year.

    Do the math for yourself on this one.

    October 6, 2009 08:35 AM  ·  Permalink

    Weekly Flu Watch - What swine flu ISN'T doing this week

    By Michael Fumento

    Welcome to the second edition of "Weekly Flu Watch," which relies on data, rather than the apparent media dictum that "One anecdote is worth a thousand statistics."

    As I've noted previously, every Friday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) publishes a new edition of FluView, which tracks all types of flu but currently only swine flu since that's all that's out there now. Most figures are from the previous week, though some are newer.

    And every week the hysteria-minded media ignore it. But for those who do care about how our alleged pandemic is progressing, herewith the latest from the CDC with supplemental information from elsewhere.

    As you probably know, the media proclaimed that THIS WEEK the epidemic finally took off. Of course, that's what they said last week. Now they're wrong again.

    Total deaths since August 30 from "Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated" illness according to the CDC website are 1,397. But only 192 of those have been laboratory-confirmed as being flu of any type. And yes, people do die of pneumonia from many causes other than flu.

    The CDC no longer publishes data on swine flu cases or deaths. However, the FluTracker website does, and as of today lists 149,359 total confirmed U.S. cases with 680 deaths, compared to last week with 136,268 cases and 644 deaths.

    For the mathematically-challenged, that's just 36 deaths in the past week. By comparison, the CDC estimates 36,000 Americans die annually of seasonal flu, or about 1,800 each week during the season of approximately 140 days.

    FluTracker also provides a graph that shows new worldwide cases and deaths and that graph shows, rather graphically, that they are currently far below where they were two or three weeks ago.

    And the massive outbreak on college campuses you've been hearing about? The American College Health Association's latest weekly survey at this writing shows new cases have DROPPED by 19 percent compared to the previous week.

    FluView reports that the percentage of samples testing positive for swine flu from the sentinel system of laboratories is down slightly from last week, at 22.8 percent, with the data here. (Though as I write this the last week's figures haven't been entered yet.) Another way of looking at it is that only about a fifth of the samples that even doctors (much less scared patients) suspect may show swine flu do not show influenza of any type.

    That's one indicator of hysteria.

    Another is that despite all the indications that there were fewer new flu cases, the percentage of visits to emergency rooms and outpatient clinics by people worried they have the flu - and worried enough to seek medical attention - is incredibly high. It's about five percent of all emergency visits now.

    Finally, deaths from influenza and pneumonia are well within the normal bounds for this time of year, or as the CDC puts it, "below the epidemic threshold."

    Repeat, there is no flu epidemic. There will be because now flu season has officially started. But all the pap in the papers? False.

    October 3, 2009 02:22 PM  ·  Permalink

    Swine flu doomsayers taking a fallback position

    By Michael Fumento

    With the faux "pandemic" not panning out, a position I'm seeing more and more among the doomsayers is essentially: "Regardless that swine flu isn't proving worse than seasonal flu, and regardless that it may just be milder than seasonal flu, for some individuals it can be quite bad."

    I heard that from a CDC spokesman and you can see it in this New Scientist article, "Don't be fooled: swine flu still poses a deadly threat," which states, "While H1N1 mostly causes mild disease, some people - estimates suggest fewer than 1 per cent - become deathly ill, very fast."

    And how does that make it any different from seasonal flu?

    What if NHTSA predicted 100,000 traffic fatalities this year instead of about 40,000 and then when fatalities actually started coming in at a rate below even 40,000 declared, "Don't be fooled. Some of those accidents are really severe!" You wouldn't be overly impressed, would you?

    Especially telling is The New Scientist quoting an intensive care expert at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. "These were the sickest people I've ever seen," says Anand Kumar.

    No, Dr. Kumar, the sickest people you've ever seen are the ones who died.

    September 30, 2009 09:48 AM  ·  Permalink

    Swinenewsflash! 21,000 college students missing!

    By Michael Fumento

    "Twenty-one thousand college students are sick," begins a Fox online news report titled: "H1N1 Picks Up Steam One Week Before Vaccine Becomes Available." Wow! That's a lot of sick kids! Tell us more!


    But there is nothing more on those 21,000. Lots of talk about people swamping emergency rooms and school closings, yet not a single number regarding actual flu cases in a 765-word article.

    What if it began "Flying saucers land on the White House lawn" and no flying saucers were mentioned again? And no, Fox fans, I'm not picking on your favorite network. Lots of people are tossing that number around; I just stumbled upon the Fox piece first.

    Turns out the data are from the American College Health Association (ACHA) and are cumulative since August 22. So unless we assume that everybody who got the flu five weeks ago still has it, it's hardly the snapshot implied by the present tense "are" and is worthless in determining whether the bug is "picking up steam" or "petering out."

    And the truly nifty thing about cumulative cases is they never go down. So next week they can use a higher figure and the week after a still higher one. Let's play that with other diseases. "100 million Americans have cancer!" Or maybe, "10 million kids have polio!"

    Cumulative figures are also useless for determining what's happening right now - which is what this article and all the other scare stories are supposedly about. Nevertheless, the ACHA figures for the latest week at this writing show a 15% increase. Not exactly the end of the world, and in part it reflects that more institutions were reporting than the week before. Still, the increase for this week may prove much higher.

    This is how you play the game, kids. But I'm guessing there are a lot of exhausted emergency room workers, along with truly ill patients being pushed aside by the worried well, who don't really enjoy it.

    September 29, 2009 10:29 PM  ·  Permalink

    Weekly flu watch - What swine flu ISN'T doing this week

    By Michael Fumento

    Every Friday the CDC website publishes a situation update on swine flu with figures updated through the previous week, though some of the data is newer. And every week the hysteria-minded media ignore it. Statistics get in the way of articles filled with doom and gloom, of body bags and cemetery land set asides.

    Anyway, why consult the data when you can offer plenty of anecdotes about people suffering from a "flu-like illness?"

    But for those who do care about how our alleged pandemic is progressing, I will begin herewith to provide a weekly summary.

    Total deaths since August 30 from "Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated" illness generally are 936, but only 114 of those have been laboratory-confirmed as being flu of any type. And yes, people do die of pneumonia from many causes other than flu.

    flu visits
    FEAR FACTOR: The red line indicates emergency room and walk-in clinic visits from persons in 2009 who think they have the flu. The other colors are previous years.

    The CDC no longer separately tracks swine flu cases or deaths. However, the FluTracker website does, and as of today lists 136, 268 confirmed U.S. cases with 644 confirmed fatalities.

    By comparison, the CDC estimates 36,000 Americans die annually of seasonal flu, or about 257 per day during the season of approximately 140 days.

    The number of positive tests for swine flu is down this week, notwithstanding all those articles you've been reading about how swine flu is finally taking off. You can see the data here.

    A word of caution, though. Those are reports from a sentinel system of laboratories. It's possible the laboratories were overwhelmed with specimens and simply couldn't keep up with the samples doctors forwarded to them.

    But, the percentage of samples proving positive barely increased, from 22.55% to 23.87%.

    Another way of looking at it is that over three-fourths of samples that even doctors (much less scared patients) suspect may show swine flu do not.

    That's one indicator of hysteria.

    Another is that even though the number of actual flu detections tested is down, the percentage of visits to outpatient clinics by people who think they have the flu continues to rise. In fact, if you look at the curve it's been practically shooting straight up for the past four weeks.

    But apparently nobody but me has been looking at the data. Turns out that if you click on the link to take you to the underlying numbers, they're four weeks behind the figures in the chart. The CDC press office didn't even know about this until I asked. What does that tell you?

    Finally, deaths from influenza and pneumonia are well within the normal bounds for this time of year.

    So visits to emergency rooms and other outpatient facilities from people afraid they have the flu are way up while infections are apparently down. I don't call it "pandemic panic over a piglet" for nothing.

    September 25, 2009 06:10 PM  ·  Permalink

    Panic-monger Laurie Garrett has swine flu!

    By Michael Fumento

    Or so she says in her Newsweek essay "Surviving Swine Flu." And she admits it actually hasn't been diagnosed.

    But it's definitely swine flu. No doubt she's coughing, sneezing, and has an incredible urge to roll around in the mud.

    She is, she says, "an early victim of what will likely be an enormous American pandemic."

    Garrett became famous by predicting the Ebola pandemic. Remember that? Well, there wasn't exactly one. It never left the few countries it was afflicting in Africa and then disappeared even there.

    And the massive death toll from SARS she predicted? Came out to about a day's worth of flu victims.

    But then there was the avian flu, which she predicted could kill a third of the earth's population!


    So now she's on to swine flu, noting that Newsweek gave her its cover to blare the same old message she's been blaring since 1992.

    And she'll be wrong again.

    And you know what? The media won't care a bit.

    As we've seen before with such types as Paul Ehrlich, being wrong even more often than a stopped clock never stopped anyone from being an "expert."

    September 23, 2009 08:53 PM  ·  Permalink

    Pandemic panic calls for . . . Obamacare!

    By Michael Fumento

    The current issue of Time magazine informs us

    Pandemic diseases have a way of revealing our vulnerabilities in quick order. Already we have been humbled by the virus's exploitation of our fragmented health-care system, as families without insurance overwhelm emergency rooms, schools flounder without nurses, and people without a sick-leave option choose between going to work with a raging fever or getting fired. At the University of Washington, some 2,000 students have reported having H1N1 symptoms. At Emory University in Atlanta, sick kids are relocated to a dorm dubbed Club Swine.

    Only universal health care - especially as proposed by the Obama administration - could have prevented this catastrophe!

    Except that probably few of those students actually have the flu, but rather those ubiquitous "flu-like symptoms" stoked by panic purveyors like, well, Time magazine.

    September 23, 2009 08:20 PM  ·  Permalink

    Breaking news! Fumento exaggerates swine flu!

    By Michael Fumento

    Sorry, nobody's perfect.

    In a previous blog I stated:

    Here we see a graph line of doctor visits for people claiming to have "flu-like" symptoms. It's practically going straight up.


    Then I added, "But here we see hospitalizations for confirmed cases of influenza broken down by age categories. The lines are essentially flat."


    There was a better graph and chart providing numbers behind the graph that actually showed swine flu cases in U.S. had been decreasing.

    Cases down; panic up. What's new?

    September 23, 2009 01:38 PM  ·  Permalink

    Pandemic hysteria blast from the past

    By Michael Fumento

    While researching the World Health Organization's campaign to grotesquely exaggerate the swine flu threat, I came across this little gem from a 1990 edition of the New York Times. "Eight to ten million people around the world are now infected with the virus that causes AIDS, and the incidence of the infection is rising dramatically in some parts of the world, the World Health Organization reports."

    Scary stuff!

    Too bad the Grey Lady neglected to mention that just four years earlier the WHO had predicted that by 1990 there would be 50 to 100 million infections.

    Isn't it nice to know some things never change?

    September 19, 2009 01:35 PM  ·  Permalink

    A graphic (literally) view of swine flu panic

    By Michael Fumento

    From the CDC:

    Here we see a graph line of doctor visits for people claiming to have "flu-like" symptoms. It's practically going straight up.

    But here we see hospitalizations for confirmed cases of influenza broken down by age categories. The lines are essentially flat.

    Finally, the daily count bar chart at FluTracker shows no more cases being reported now than a month ago, and far fewer than a couple of weeks ago.

    Fewer cases; far more "flu-like" symptoms.

    Point made.

    September 18, 2009 11:45 AM  ·  Permalink

    Mass outbreak of "suspected" swine flu!

    By Michael Fumento

    "U-Md. Reports Dozens of Flu Cases," declared the Washington Post headline.

    But while the story began, "The University of Maryland has 64 cases of suspected swine flu" it concludes, "The U-Md. health center is not testing students to confirm H1N1 infection, because the course of treatment is the same as with regular seasonal flu, said Beth Cavanaugh, university spokeswoman."

    And with each "suspected case" leading to many more "suspected cases," we're going to have a really epidemic of suspected swine flu cases on our hands.

    September 6, 2009 04:32 PM  ·  Permalink

    Swine flu's no baby killer

    By Michael Fumento

    By yet another measure, there's nothing extraordinary about swine flu except the way a virus is being exploited for political reasons and to shore up sagging circulation figures. Just-released CDC figures indicate all of 36 swine flu deaths in children under age five.

    How does that compare to seasonal flu?

    "During the 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07 seasons, a total of 153, 47, 46, and 73 pediatric deaths were reported through the influenza-associated pediatric mortality reporting system, respectively," says the report in the agency publication MMWR. The disproportion would be far greater if they tracked seasonal flu deaths with anything like the effort and accuracy with which they've been tracking those from swine flu.

    Further, "28 of the 36 children whose deaths were associated with [swine flu] were in at least one of two groups previously found to be at increased risk for complications from seasonal influenza," says the CDC.

    Yes, 36 toddler swine flu deaths are still 36 tragedies. But no, they're not greater tragedies than when those deaths come ordinary flu or anything else for that matter.

    September 5, 2009 07:10 PM  ·  Permalink

    President's Council Swine Flu House of Cards (my piece in today's Philly Inquirer)

    By Michael Fumento

    To a grand media reception, the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology issued a paper giving as a "plausible scenario" 30,000 - 90,000 U.S. swine flu deaths, with a peak before Americans would have a chance to get vaccine immunity.

    It's pork baloney, as I write in today's Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Although this shortened version of my original piece no longer contains it, the CDC has refused to support that figure. For good reason.

    The report is based on three layer of cards. If anyone one doesn't hold, everything comes tumbling down. None hold against scientific evidence. The layers:

    1. An epidemic peaking in October than infects 150 million Americans. BUT that's just six weeks away, meaning about 2 million infections a day between now and then. Yet it took FIVE MONTHS to reach the first 2 million infections.

    2. Vastly more Americans will be infected with swine flu than seasonal flu because swine flu is new to our immune systems. BUT it's not new. It's subtype H1N1. That subtype has been circulating since 1977. We've had exposure for decades to something that our immune systems recognize.

    3. Swine flu is as lethal as season flu. BUT all the data indicate it's far milder. Fresh statistics from New York City indicate it's a tenth to a 40th as lethal as seasonal flu.

    CONCLUSION: The evidence is that the U.S. will have NO excess flu deaths this year and it's entirely possible we'll have fewer deaths than in a typical season. Why? Because swine flu seems to displace seasonal flu and it's milder. With a similar case number and lower mortality, we have fewer overall deaths.

    September 2, 2009 09:14 PM  ·  Permalink

    ONE already-ill student MAY have died from swine flu so . . . PANIC!

    By Michael Fumento

    "Student's Flu Death Raises Concerns at Nation's Universities," blares the headline of a Fox News story.

    Turns out the student hadn't even started classes and had a serious underlying health problem, MS. That condition is especially important, because MS is often treated with immunosuppressive drugs. Such people are always among those most at risk for any infectious disease. Now add that yearly 36,000 Americans die of seasonal flu. And believe it or not, sometimes they're college students.

    Yet, "The death of a college student from the flu has raised the alarm at universities throughout the country as the nation gears up for what is predicted to be a brutal flu season," says the article, which is accompanied by a photo of a student wearing what is probably a useless mask to ward off the dreaded disease. The article adds that, "numerous institutions are reporting seeing scores of students with flu-like symptoms just one week into the fall semester."

    Ah yes, those ubiquitous "flu-like symptoms." And each time a story like this appears, you'll get thousands more cases of "flu-like symptoms" among perfectly healthy people.

    Want to avoid getting psychosomatic swine flu? Read my piece in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about the panic-promoting President's Council report.

    September 2, 2009 04:59 PM  ·  Permalink

    On being a modern day Cassandra - or when scientific methodolgy hurts you

    By Michael Fumento

    The following is from an essay on why people love conspiracy theories:

    The reality may be that all too many of us actually prefer to believe the fantastic over the mundane. Maybe the sky is falling, but isn't life also a bit more romantic with the nervous thrill that maybe the end really is at hand? And even if the sky isn't falling, aren't the nights more exciting with beings from other worlds buzzing around in them? These are exciting times for those who believe themselves to be living in the biblical "End Times," shortly to be called to do Apocalyptic battle with the forces of Satan. On a whole other level, a national poll reveals that some 70 percent of Americans do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. What the pollsters didn't ask was whether those 70 percent of Americans felt better believe that their president was killed by an elaborate conspiracy than by some isolated nut with a mail-order rifle and a head full of sour politics. If the lone nut could get the president, didn't that make life so random that anything could supposedly happen to anyone at any time? In the traumatic wake of the JFK assassination and the subsequent murders of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, the concept of conspiracy offered a certain degree of chilly comfort. At least it possessed sufficiently evil stature to explain the pain.

    Unfortunately, most people in our culture don't seek enlightenment in their daily reading. They seek either confirmation bias or entertainment, or better yet both together. The last thing they want is a simple explanation for a phenomenon, for example that Gulf vets are getting sick and dying for no other reason than that everybody gets sick and everybody dies and fact is Gulf vets are getting sick and dying at exactly the same rate as matched controls who didn't deploy.

    And disasters are also entertaining. So if a presidential council says swine flu could kill as many as 90,000 Americans this year it's page A1 news. When I write that the evidence indicates we'll just have a typical flu season in terms of deaths, that's so BORE-ING. Important? Absolutely! But unless you're among the minority to whom enlightenment is exciting, such a piece may be considered dull, dull, dull.

    It makes you a sort of modern-day Cassandra. People don't believe your predictions. And it's not because they're not based on solid science but, to a great extent because they are based on solid science. Solid science just isn't what they're looking for.

    September 2, 2009 11:33 AM  ·  Permalink

    Study shows how swine flu may LOWER flu deaths

    By Michael Fumento

    The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology got lots of press with its report giving a "plausible scenario" of as many as 90,000 deaths this fall and winter from swine flu. But new research and actual flu data from Australia indicate we could be in for a milder flu season than normal precisely because of swine flu.

    Posted on PLoS Currents: Influenza, a Web site operated by the Public Library of Science to rapidly share scientific flu information, the study in which ferrets were infected with both swine flu H1N1 virus and the seasonal H1N1 found that the swine version spread far more efficiently. In essence, it outcompetes seasonal flu H1N1.

    That's being shown even now in Australia. Being south of the equator, it's having its flu season now and the government is indeed reporting swine flu "appears to be replacing the current seasonal H1N1 virus."

    But with no swine flu vaccine and swine flu cases having peaked in July, the government is reporting an epidemic not discernibly worse than in recent years. How could this be?

    Simple. As I've noted repeatedly in my articles and blogs, all evidence is that swine flu is less severe than seasonal flu. Therefore, let's connect those dots. To the extent that swine flu replaces seasonal flu (and indeed becomes the seasonal flu) and is milder, there will be fewer deaths.

    Lots of reporters have written about the PLoS study, yet don't expect any to draw this conclusion. It doesn't fit the "we're all gonna die" paradigm.

    I have a full-length piece on the President's Council report due out tomorrow.

    September 1, 2009 01:13 PM  ·  Permalink

    NYC swine flu report shows far milder than seasonal flu

    By Michael Fumento

    In the wake of the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology report with its "plausible scenario" of 30,000 - 90,000 swine flu deaths during the cold season comes a report from New York showing how truly mild the disease appears to be.

    City officials estimate about 800,000 New Yorkers were infected in the spring. Through July, 47 of these died. That's a fatality rate of 0.006% - a tenth to a 40th the death rate of Americans due to seasonal flu, according to the CDC estimate range. Some pandemic.

    Meanwhile, the family of a New York man who died of swine flu has announced it's planning to sue the city, claiming it failed to provide a safe workplace (he worked for the public school system) and failed to adequately control the H1N1 outbreak. They're asking for $40 million. Not incidentally, photos show the man is clearly obese and obesity has been found to be a special risk factor for swine flu.

    Let's see, I had a really nasty cold last year. That should be good for at least a few million, don't you think?

    August 31, 2009 11:49 AM  ·  Permalink

    Swine Flu deaths so slight they don't even register

    By Michael Fumento

    This graph from today's weekly CDC influenza report depicts flu and pneumonia deaths collected from 122 cities. Compared to the three previous years you see no unusual flu activity at all; it's within what's called "background noise" range.This is WHO's pandemic?

    Oh, most definitely says the President's Council on Science and Technology in a much ballyhooed report giving a "plausible scenario" of 30,000 - 90,000 swine flu deaths during the coming cold months.

    It's a big, fat fib. Watch this space.

    August 28, 2009 02:22 PM  ·  Permalink

    Four months of swine flu deaths finally equal 1 seasonal flu day

    By Michael Fumento

    The WHO now reports 816 flu deaths worldwide, since the first cases in March. Seasonal flu, it says, kills 250,000 to 500,000 people each year, or 744 to 1488 deaths. So after over four months, we've finally got swine flu cases equal to those at the lower end of the range for a single day of seasonal flu.

    For the U.S., deaths are equivalent to what we'd see in one or two days of seasonal flu during the season.

    And that's your pandemic panic update.

    August 2, 2009 07:06 PM  ·  Permalink

    Constructive criticism on swine flu writing

    By Michael Fumento

    The level of denial of reality is so frigging high in this article that I am now certain that you are a sick faggot.

    July 31, 2009 12:04 PM  ·  Permalink

    Figuring How To Terrify Us Over Swine Flu

    By Michael Fumento

    "U.S. health officials say swine flu could strike up to 40 percent of Americans over the next two years and as many as several hundred thousand could die." So declares an Associated Press article, the writer of which you can picture trying to catch his breath as he pounds away at the keyboard. In its exclusive revelation of unpublished figures, AP says "Those estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) mean about twice the number of people who usually get sick in a normal flu season would be struck by swine flu."

    No they don't. The CDC's influenza website shows they're essentially the same.

    Welcome to the wonderful world of swine flu hysteria, in which health agencies - be it the World Health Organization (which declared a worldwide pandemic with just 244 deaths) or the CDC - can tell any scary story they want with the assurance that the mainstream media will never challenge them. That includes pointing to a piglet and proclaiming it to be a wild, raging boar.

    Read the rest of my article in Investor's Business Daily.

    July 30, 2009 09:30 PM  ·  Permalink

    No Swine Flu Rationality Please, We're British

    By Michael Fumento

    The Exeter City Council, in southwest England, has announced plans to use 19th-century catacombs to contain the overflow of swine flu victims if the pandemic worsens.

    "A council spokesman said the plan could be put into operation if the cemeteries and the crematorium could not keep up with funeral demands," according to Agence France-Presse. "We have some empty catacombs in an old cemetery in the city," a councilman said. "These are 19th century underground burial chambers which are normally a tourist attraction," he added, but can "be safely used for their original purpose and allow us to temporarily store bodies in the remote possibility that the need should arise."

    Seasonal flu kills about 12,000 in England and Wales, or about 215 deaths each day during the approximately two-month season according to the Cabinet Office.

    The total British swine flu death toll since the epidemic began three months ago, including also Scotland and Northern Ireland? About 30. Total swine flu deaths in the area around Exeter? About zero.

    July 28, 2009 11:08 AM  ·  Permalink