“Prove that influenza is more deadly than Covid” read the headline at the top of the Monday edition of the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
“NS COVID-19 (New Coronavirus Infection) Continuing to determine Hawaii’s public life and government policy, influenza and pneumonia have quietly killed at least 859 people in the last 12 months, outpacing the total pandemic coronavirus deaths. ” I did.
After more than a year and a half of daily Covid-19 cases and deaths, a sudden outage of tourism, business restrictions, and anxious months of wearing masks and testing, it was a surprising revelation. Is it all for something less deadly than the flu every year?
There was only one problem. That was completely wrong.
For one thing, according to the State Department of Health, contrary to the headline, influenza was listed as the cause of death in only one case during the 2020-2021 influenza season. Others may have died of pneumonia after getting the flu, but the number has been diminished by more than 600 people who died from Covid during the same period.
And in more than half of those deadly Covid cases, the actual cause of death was pneumonia. In other words, Covid pushed up deaths from pneumonia, which the newspaper quoted as separate from the pandemic.
“Covid is by far the leading respiratory pathogen that causes pneumonia mortality and all-cause mortality,” said health department epidemiologist Josh Quint.
As of Wednesday night, Star Advertiser hadn’t modified the story. Meanwhile, authorities have overreacted to the pandemic, imposing unnecessary restrictions, and being cited on social media as evidence of mandating vaccinations for certain workers.
“Influenza and pneumonia deaths have outpaced and accelerated outbreaks in Hawaii over the past year. Vaccine damage to people’s immune system, or has it been just influenza all the time?” One person tweeted.
“It’s strange that 962 people died from flu / pneumonia between 2018 and 2019, but as it was typical year after year, no one wore lockdowns or masks, but now it’s a way of profit and management. Is considered. ” Another tweet, quoted number From the Star Advertiser Story.
On Tuesday, without mentioning the daily newspaper, the Department of Health issued a statement from state epidemiologist Sarah Kemble that contradicted the story.
“In Hawaii and around the world, COVID-19 was far more deadly than the flu during the 2020-2021 flu season,” Kemble said in a statement. “One influenza death was confirmed in Hawaii between September 27, 2020 and October 2, 2021, which is compared to 608 COVID-19 deaths during the same reporting period. . “
Health officials say the story provided science-based information and undermined their efforts to take Covid seriously for the general public. Although the number of cases has declined in the last few weeks, they say the virus still poses a threat.
“NSPeople can interpret it as telling themselves. “I’ve been living with the flu for the last few years and I’m fine, so what’s the big deal if Covid isn’t as bad as the flu?” Brooksvale. “This sends people who don’t need to wear masks, people who don’t need to avoid large groups, and … most importantly, the message” Why do you need to be vaccinated? ” I am worried that it may be. “
Quint said even residents who believe Covid is worse than the flu on the mainland may continue to hope that it’s not so bad here.
“People have the perception that virology is different in Hawaii,” he said. “I would like to emphasize that virology is the same in Hawaii.”
Pneumonia is often associated with the flu, but it has many causes, including bacteria, fungi, and other viruses, especially Covid. According to Baehr, flu and pneumonia deaths surge each year as the flu season begins.
However, according to state-provided disease surveillance data, including figures quoted in newspaper articles, influenza has fallen to near zero over the past year, making Covid the leading cause of death.
Covid and influenza are viruses, but pneumonia is a disease that can be caused by these viruses. Therefore, it is difficult to analyze which virus caused the disease in each case. However, health officials said it was clear that Covid was the culprit in far more cases over the past year.
The Star Advertiser editor did not respond to requests for comment. Baehr said health ministry officials spoke with newspaper reporters on Wednesday.
“We are optimistic that they will straighten the record,” he said. As a reputable company, he added, “They have a vested interest in correcting the story, not only to protect their good reputation, but also to protect their readers.”
In her written statement, Kemble warns: If mitigation measures are relaxed as the number of cases of COVID decreases, recurrence of influenza and other respiratory illnesses may occur.
“DOH strongly recommends that all eligible individuals be vaccinated against both influenza and COVID-19. It is safe to be vaccinated against both at the same time. By being vaccinated against influenza , Hawaii’s influenza vaccination coverage can be kept low, hospital capacity can be protected, and communities can be kept healthy. “
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