Hiding Bodies

Any policy that results in large numbers of dead Americans tends to be unpopular with the public. Yet, the CDC has deliberately chosen a policy, keeping schools open, that is guaranteed to result in large numbers of dead Americans. This poses a problem for the CDC and the politicians that back them. One solution would be to change the policy and close the schools. This does not appear to be on the table. Instead, they seem to have chosen a different option: hide the bodies.

As any accountant will tell you, the best way to keep track of expenses and avoid fraud to is to carefully itemise expenses and keep categories tight and focused. The corollary, as any embezzler will tell you, is that the way to hide losses is to make categories as broad as possible and to avoid itemisation. If $1,000 goes missing and must be accounted for out of a $10,000 category with itemisation of each expense, it is far more likely to be discovered than if it comes out of a broad $1,000,000 category with no itemisation. Similarly, if one wants to hide the deaths from the new H1N1 flu, the first step is to stop counting them and subsume them under a broad, poorly defined category. And that is exactly what the CDC has just started to do.

Starting the week of August 30 – September 5, 2009, the CDC will no longer count (itemise) H1N1 deaths. Thus, for the US, the total of laboratory confirmed H1N1 deaths for the US will forever remain stuck at 593.

From the CDC:

This is the first week that CDC is reporting data from a new system for monitoring the trend of influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths. This new system replaces the weekly report of laboratory confirmed 2009 H1N1-related hospitalizations and deaths. States and territories can now report to CDC either laboratory confirmed or pneumonia and influenza syndromic hospitalizations and deaths resulting from all types or subtypes of influenza, not just those from 2009 H1N1 influenza virus. To allow jurisdictions to implement the new case definition, counts were reset to zero on August 30, 2009.

The more diffuse category that H1N1 will now be included in is notoriously subjective. Local authorities will have wide discretion in setting whatever criteria they wish in determining if someone died of influenza or not. This is almost certain to result in large numbers of false negatives due to the atypical presentations of many patients with H1N1. For example, although 30 – 50% of people with laboratory-confirmed H1N1 have no fever, the CDC is instructing public health departments to assume that a person does *not* have H1N1 if they do not have a fever. Will anyone who dies without a fever thus be automatically excluded as a possible influenza death?

Conveniently, the counts for pandemic deaths were “reset to zero” just as cases of H1N1 were starting to increase due to schools opening. Deaths, particularly among children, have started to rise dramatically. But the “new” deaths won’t be added to the “old” deaths because…. well, because the CDC decided to call them “new”.

The fact that the new H1N1 continued to cause disease and death throughout the summer does alter the normal notion of pandemic seasons. However, the CDC is not following their own historical methodology. By convention, the new flu “season” starts in October. In fact, according to the CDC, “the 2009-10 influenza season officially begins October 4, 2009.” So, why reset the deaths to zero on August 30, 2009? Will the deaths be reset to zero, again, on October 4, 2009?

Ya know, if a businessman kept resetting his expenses to zero, someone might start asking questions.

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2 Comments

Filed under public health

2 responses to “Hiding Bodies

  1. Dear Monotreme,
    Just a few words to inform you that I read your Blog on a daily basis. Every time, I am deeply moved by your empathy and care for others. Great blogging work. Mille fois merci!

  2. monotreme1000

    Avec plaisir, Lyne.

    Thanks for reading and your kind words.

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