(NaturalNews) Read just about any news report on swine flu deaths, and you'll come across a line that claims "36,000 people die each year from flu-related causes." It sounds authoritative. It's even a nice, round number. But where is this number coming from? And is it based on any actual science?
This statistic is being paraded around by almost everybody, as if to say that swine flu isn't so bad because regular flu kills so many people each year anyway. The truth is that the only standard by which the CDC and WHO are quoting deaths from swine flu is if they are confirmed deaths from a particular viral strain
. To them, if a death has not been confirmed in their labs, it does not count as a death from that flu.
Got that? Only "confirmed" deaths count. And they must be confirmed in a laboratory using a rigorous method of comparing samples taken from the deceased with a known database of viral patterns.
As it turns out, virtually none of the 36,000 people said to die from regular flu each year have been confirmed in any lab
Thus, according to the guidelines of the CDC and WHO, they don't count. Based on their own rules, it is technically accurate to say that regular flu kills virtually no one.
It's not true, of course, because people do die from the "regular flu" each year, but it is technically accurate according to the CDC and WHO rules for scientific evidence.
Again, that's because nearly all of these "regular flu" deaths aren't confirmed by a CDC or WHO-recognized lab. Thus, they have no scientific standing.
Infectious disease double standard
I find it interesting that when talking about swine flu, the criteria for inclusion in statistics is positive identification in a rigorous laboratory. But when talking about regular flu
, the criteria for inclusion is -- technically speaking -- anybody's wild guess
The 36,000 number, it turns out, was pulled out of thin air. It has no scientific validity whatsoever, even according to the CDC's own standards.
I tracked down the origins of this number on CDC.gov, by the way. Turns out it was an estimate derived by the CDC in 2003 (http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/media/pressrel/r030...
It's an estimate, mind you, not a "confirmed" number of deaths
. And that estimate has stayed exactly the same through 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. Not a budge. Before the number was 36,000, it was 20,000 for many years. That tells you right off the bat this isn't some confirmed laboratory number -- it's a guesstimate!
I'm not disagreeing with the number. It's probably a fairly accurate guess (the CDC folks are a smart bunch). But it doesn't meet the criteria by which these infectious disease organizations report influenza deaths.
As the CDC even says on their own website, "This estimate came from a 2003 study published in the Journal of the American Medication Association (JAMA), which looked at the 1990-91 through the 1998-99 flu seasons . Statistical modeling was used to estimate how many flu-related deaths occurred among people whose underlying cause of death
on their death certificate was listed as a respiratory or circulatory disease. During these years, the number of estimated deaths ranged from 17,000 to 52,000."
In other words, they took a look at how many people died from respiratory or circulatory disease, and from that they extrapolated "flu-related deaths."
This is all accomplished through "statistical modeling," which is the equivalent of statisticians waving magic wands to create new numbers where none exist. Based on the sample size, it can be quite accurate (plus or minus a few percentage points), or it can be way off base depending on the accuracy of the statistical sample.
Notably, if the same methodology were used to calculate swine flu
deaths, it might currently show 300 or more deaths (and such methodologies would be widely criticized, of course, for being "just wild guesses," which they are).
As the CDC admits itself, "CDC does not know exactly how many people die from flu each year."
And... "It has been recognized for many years that influenza is infrequently listed on death certificates  and testing for influenza infections usually not done, particularly among the elderly who are at greatest risk of influenza complications and death. Some deaths – particularly in the elderly – are associated with secondary complications of influenza (including bacterial pneumonias)." (http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/disease/us_flu-...
In other words: Influenza isn't listed on death certificates and influenza testing isn't even done on most patients!
Thus, it is not possible for these 36,000 influenza deaths to be confirmed at all.
Swine flu may escape detection, too
What else is interesting in all this is when the CDC explains that viral strains aren't even detectable in patients after the first few days of infection:"Influenza virus infection may not be identified in many instances because influenza virus is only detectable for a short period of time and many people don't seek medical care until after the first few days of acute illness."
- The CDC
If this is true, then isn't it also true that most swine flu patients can NEVER be confirmed in a lab?
I find this quite curious, because according to what the CDC is saying here, it is impossible to ever get an accurate "confirmed" count of swine flu patients because the influenza virus isn't detectable after a "short period of time." Thus, by limiting swine flu death reports to only those patients who have been confirmed in a laboratory, the CDC is essentially eliminating the very possibility that many swine flu patients will ever be tested and identified as carrying the strain.
Put another way, the criteria for identifying and reporting swine flu deaths is, itself, limiting the number of swine flu deaths that will ever be counted. Essentially, the system is rigged to under-report swine flu deaths
by eliminating anyone who wasn't tested in time to identify the strain.
This, I believe, is why the swine flu death count remains magically low even as doctors on the ground in Mexico City are reporting much larger numbers of real-world swine flu deaths.
The other important thing to realize here is that the 36,000 figure is not talking about just one strain of influenza: It's a cumulative figure from ALL the other strains of influenza combined!
"Regular flu," you see, isn't just one flu. It's a collection of potentially hundreds of different flu strains. So assigning the 36,000 deaths a year figure to "regular flu" is misleading because it makes it sound like a single strain of influenza.
The truth is that nobody really knows how many deaths each year occur from the different strains of flu circulating in the wild. Some top-notch CDC officials can probably take a pretty good guess at it, but it's still just that: A guess. The real numbers are, frankly, unknown.
It's also unknown how many people die from the viral load vs. how many die from secondary infections (such as bacterial pneumonia) that often follow viral infections. Technically, a lot of those 36,000 people (or so) might have been killed by various strains of common bacteria, not by the viruses.
Yesterday morning, Mexico was reporting 159 deaths from swine flu. According to the WHO, that number is not only 7. How does 159 magically become 7? By including the word "confirmed" in front of it.
Fine. Let's all go with the "confirmed" modifier. All infectious disease deaths must now be confirmed in a CDC or WHO laboratory in order to count. So that means the 36,000 number needs to be revised down to however many have been "confirmed" in that group.
And how many is that? Only the CDC knows. I'm guessing it's a two-digit number.
So much for the myth of "36,000 flu-related deaths a year." If you believe that number, I'm sure there's a job waiting for you at the U.S. Treasury Dept., too, where numbers are materialized out of thin air on a daily basis in order to finance the national debt.