The Flu Comparison Still Fascinates


RUSH: We mentioned these flu numbers some time ago. I also have a new column here today by William J. Bennett, the former drug czar in the Reagan administration and... Oh, wait. He was education secretary for Reagan, drug czar in... Well, that might have been Reagan, too, maybe Bush. But he and Seth Leibsohn had a piece last week in which they pointed out that 98% of the people who get coronavirus recover from it, which seems to be an important number: 98% recover.

Now, that does not mean that there is a 2% fatality rate. The fatality rate for this virus may be much lower than anybody thinks.

We can't get an active number on it 'cause we don't know how many people are infected. There are people who have this virus who are asymptomatic. For those of you in Rio Linda, that means they're not sneezing or sniffling or have a sore throat. They're showing no symptoms at all, but they're contagious.

We don't know why they're not showing symptoms. We don't know if they will at some point or won't, if they've already built up some immunity. Oh! And there is a gigantic See, I Told You So story today that the virus may have been in California months before anybody knew it, just as I and Victor Davis Hanson have been positing for the past couple of weeks.

Well, Bennett is out with a new piece today, and he's focusing on flu numbers, and here's the opening paragraph: "Given the most recent mortality rates and modeling, it's going to turn out that the coronavirus will end up looking a lot like common flu in America, maybe less. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington" this is Chris Murray and the model that is yet to be right "is now projecting 61,545 deaths from COVID-19 with a low-range estimate of 26,000."

Remember last week was not the apocalyptic week that everybody told us it was gonna be, which allows them to say, "See how well we're doing." The flu season of 2017 and 2018 killed 61,099 Americans. "For this we have scared the hell out of the American people." We have shut down the economy. We've ended 17 million jobs. We've taken trillions of dollars out of the economy. We've closed churches and synagogues. We've massively disrupted life as we know it.

"Some of our major public officials tell us still there will be no returning to a status quo ante. We'll have to get used to a new normal. The current virus may look like the flu or less. America will look and be worse. A panic and hysteria that did not and will not come true radically degraded this country." That's a powerful statement. It's a powerful opinion right here.

This is William Bennett and Seth Leibsohn: "A panic and hysteria that did not and will not come true radically degraded this country. So what are the major lessons learned here? How do we go from an ethos of, 'Let's roll' 19 years ago when we were hit by a major attack, 9/11, to let's roll up in a ball today?"

See, the low range estimate in the IHME model out of University of Washington, 26,000. The high range now 61,000, which is the number of flu deaths in 2017-2018. Now, there's a difference in this and the flu. I'll get to it in a minute. But I want to go back to 2009-2010. Swine flu. These numbers are astounding. And for those of you, 2009-2010 is 10, 11 years ago.

I just want to check your memory here. In the United States, 2009-2010 flu season, 60 million people were infected with the swine flu, 300,000 were hospitalized. Do you remember any of this? And do you remember any stories about the massive stress and pressure placed on the American hospital system? Do you remember hospitals being built in Central Park or at the Javits Center? Do you remember the Navy hospital ships being employed to deal with the massive number of hospitalizations?

Now, the figure I have here is 18,000 dead. I think that's wrong. I think the figure was much higher. I think I've got a typo here. I originally got this number, and I copied it, and I put it in a clipboard app where I save everything that I copy, and I'm not sure that the 18,000 deaths figure is correct. I think it's low. But we'll go with it because the other figures are still -- 60 million people infected, 60 million infected.

We're nowhere near any of that. And 300,000 hospitalized. We didn't suspend or stop one thing. And, in fact, in 2009 and 2010 Obama was praised for having the great competence and leadership skills and temperament to guide the nation through the swine flu pandemic. It was also used to push and promote Obamacare. "This why we need to reform our health care system. Look at this dire disease that's soaking our nation."

But we didn't stop anything. We didn't put anybody out of work. Didn't shut down a damn thing. Now, why? Well, when it comes to the flu, people think there's a vaccine. And there isn't. A vaccine means you could go out and get the vaccine and you would never get the flu. That does not exist. We have flu shots. The CDC website may call them vaccines, but they're not. You get a flu shot, we know the various mutations of the flu. That's why we knew it was the swine flu; so we could prepare a mutation shot for it that lessens your chance of getting it, but it does not prevent anybody from getting it.

But because we have these flu shots, people think there is a way to deal with it. There's something you can do to protect yourself. So people have accepted, just as 50,000 a year die in auto accidents, we've accepted that between 30,000 and 60,000 are gonna die every year with the flu. We've just accepted it. We've accepted that certain number of people gonna commit suicide every year. We have accepted that a certain number of people are going to die from cancer. Pick anything. We've accepted it all.

We don't shut down the country for any cause of death, until this. And it's killing far fewer. It's infecting far fewer. And people are recovering from it. It's not a death sentence. You have a greater chance of being harmed by it if you fit certain demographic criteria. It looks like obesity is the number one thing. The New York people say obesity is the number one thing their patients have in common, and then diabetes, and obesity and diabetes type 2 go together. And young people are getting it, too, but not in the numbers that elderly preexisting condition people are.

But with coronavirus there's not a damn thing you can do. The American people can't go get a shot. They can't get a vaccine. They can't get what they think is a vaccine. They are helpless. That's why the flu is not even in the same category. The coronavirus people have been properly scared, adequately frightened, and along with that is the phenomena that we have hydroxychloroquine that is working practically every time it's tried. There's some episodes where it doesn't. And even that is being shot down.

People are being disabused of the notion that there is a medicine that works against it, and there is. So it's understandable that people would support a shutdown with something for which they can't take a shot, they can't get a vaccine, and for which there's no medicine. It all comes together in an advantageous way for those who have a political wish list attached to the arrival of coronavirus.