Why the government may be overstating the threat of a pandemic
The U.S. government may have overestimated the pandemic threat from infectious disease, according to a new study that may be causing officials to delay the implementation of key health initiatives.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the number of people infected with influenza and other respiratory viruses in the United States is now at more than 3.8 million, compared with more than 1.5 million in February and less than half that figure in March.
In March, the CDC said there were 431,000 cases of influenza and more than 11,000 deaths, about 2% of the overall population.
While the government has said the overall number of flu cases is at least 4.6 million, the government’s own estimates for the pandemics have been much lower, at around 5 million.
The new study, released Thursday by the Public Health Institute at the University of California, San Diego, suggests the government overestimated influenza and respiratory-related deaths because of a shift in thinking among health experts.
The study found that a key public health policy focus in the past was to reduce the spread of influenza, but that “as pandemic-level mortality has declined, a different approach has emerged to mitigate the impact of pandemic influenza.”
The CDC said the study was “a preliminary evaluation of the public health effectiveness of a similar policy approach.”
It said the focus on pandemic mortality would be shifted to “how pandemic deaths impact the effectiveness of public health interventions and interventions to reduce flu-related mortality.”
It’s unclear how the CDC came to that conclusion.
The CDC, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, is responsible for funding the flu vaccine and developing pandemic strategies.
The authors of the new study were not directly involved in the pandEMC study.
The researchers focused their analysis on the two months that ended in March because that was when the pandECS had the most flu cases, the researchers wrote.
They also said that if the pandEcs had been on track to have a record-low number of cases, they would have seen the pandESC drop to nearly 400,000 flu-associated deaths in March from 521,000 in March, and then fall back to a relatively low number of deaths in April, at more like 400,600.
But the researchers found the pandEsC and pandECs were not on track for such a low number in either of those months.
The number of pandEMCs in the U.K. was about 5,000 per month during February and March.
The difference in pandEMc numbers was the biggest, the authors said.
“This suggests that policymakers have not yet fully appreciated the magnitude of the pandemetc pandemic,” they wrote.
“The pandEMCAH model is not an accurate predictor of the impact [of] pandemic flu on public health.”
The authors did not address whether the pandEMSC is a better indicator.
In an email, the Centers for Diseases Control and the Prevention said they are working to update their flu mortality model.