Coronavirus: Australian winter influenza deaths fell to just two

Coronavirus: Australian winter influenza deaths fell to just two. By Stephen Lunn.

Just two people in Australia died from influenza between late April and November last year, and the overall number of recorded deaths across the country was significantly lower in 2020 than in ­recent years.

The fall was driven by fewer ­fatalities from respiratory diseases, including pneumonia and influenza, new Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals, and comes despite almost 1000 Australians dying from COVID-19 in the same period.

What an interesting experiment!

Australia closed its border to the rest of the world, but scarcely locked down. Yes, Victoria (20% of the country) locked down for four months, and there were a few weeks of lockdown here and there, but for most of Australia most of the time there was no lockdown.

Conclusion: Flu deaths are driven by overseas travellers bringing new flu strains into Australia. The Australian population of 25 million is too small to sustain the flu. We reached sufficient herd immunity for the flu (with some help from the flu vaccine) to mostly die out here within a year.

So Australia could eliminate the flu locally by banning overseas travel. But even this biological gain comes at a cost. It would leave Australians vulnerable to newly developing flu strains overseas, to which we would have little or no immunity. When we did get infected, it would be much worse. It would be like when native Americans or Australian Aboriginals first came into contact with European and Asian diseases — it just wipes them out.

Btw, researchers reckon that measles only developed some 6,000 years ago. Before then the human population was too small to sustain such an infectious disease. A bigger population can sustain more infectious diseases, without the disease ever dying out. (To help see this, take it to its logical extreme. Consider a population consisting just of your family, biologically isolated from the rest of humanity. Once your family gets rid of a disease, it’s gone for good from your family.)

All of which rather points out how wrong the people repeating the Chinese propaganda were, that covid is “just a little flu” or “no worse than the flu”. Sure. Covid killed a thousand Australians while flu killed just two.

hat-tip Stephen Neil