Discover more from All Facts Matter
There Is No "Tripledemic"
Influenza-Like Illnesses Have Always Occurred At The Same Time
Of all the inane and insane bits of COVID fear porn the corporate media has produced recently, it is hard to find any that are more ridiculous or unscientific than the notion of a “tripledemic” of COVID-19, Influenza, and Respiratory Syncytial VIrus (RSV), which are all happening with simultaneous increased frequency of late.
“The holiday season is about togetherness and there is a way to gather safely – even as respiratory viruses in our city are unusually high,” Health Commissioner Ashwin Vasan said in a statement. “It starts with protecting yourself. Vaccination and boosters are critical but so are common sense precautions like masking when indoors or among crowds and staying home if you don’t feel well. Also, get tested before getting together, and get treated quickly if you test positive. We want everyone to have a happy and – most of all – healthy holiday.”
The move comes as COVID-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, is sickening millions of Americans and putting increased pressure on health care systems. Some are referring to the circulation of the three viruses as a “tripledemic.”
From beginning to end, the entire “tripledemic” narrative is a complete work of fiction—there is no “tripledemic” and there never has been a “tripledemic.”
Influenza, RSV, and even the SARS-CoV-2 (a human coronavirus), are all part of a grouping of infectious respiratory diseases collectively termed Influenza-Like Illnesses. This has been an understood principle of medical research for years, as even a brief survey of the literature reveals.
For example, influenza-like illnesses were the focus of a 2004 study published in Australian Family Physcian.
In addition to influenza, viruses known to cause ILI include respiratory syncytial virus, rhinovirus, adenovirus, parainfluenza viruses, human coronaviruses (including the virus that causes severe acute respiratory syndrome) and the recently recognised human metapneumovirus.
There is also a 2017 study of the epidemiology of ILI among pediatric patients, which provided a breakdown of the incidence of the various viruses known to be associated with ILI.
6266 children were included, of whom 2421 experienced 3717 ILI episodes. Rhinovirus/enterovirus had the highest prevalence (41.5%), followed by influenza (15.8%), adenovirus (9.8%), parainfluenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (both 9.7%), coronavirus (5.6%), human metapneumovirus (5.5%) and human bocavirus (HBov) (2.0%). Corresponding incidence per 100 person-years was 29.78, 11.34, 7.03, 6.96, 6.94, 4.00, 3.98 and 1.41. Except for influenza, respiratory virus prevalence declined with age. The incidence of medically-attended ILI associated with viral infection ranged from 1.03 (HBov) to 23.69 (rhinovirus/enterovirus). The percentage of children missing school or daycare ranged from 21.4% (HBov) to 52.1% (influenza).
A search of Google Scholar under the term “Influenza LIke Illness” reveals tens of pages at least of research papers covering the family of infections. ILI is a known and recurring phenomenon each and every year.
Moreover, in 2014, the WHO established diagnostic criteria for ILI as well as for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI)—essentially ILI severe enough to warrant hospitalization.
ILI case definition
An acute respiratory infection with:
measured fever of ≥ 38 C°
with onset within the last 10 days.
SARI case definition
An acute respiratory infection with:
history of fever or measured fever of ≥ 38 C°;
with onset within the last 10 days;
and requires hospitalization.
These criteria were established because the viruses listed above—which now includes SARS-CoV-2—all have largely similar symptoms and cannot be distinguished by patient evaluation alone, but require specific diagnostic tests to confirm the presence of a specific pathogen.
When people talk about getting “the flu”, unless they have had a specific diagnostic test to confirm the presence of influenza virus, they are describing having had any one of these several viruses.
Moreover, as the 2017 study shows, most cases of “the flu” are not even influenza. The most prevalent viral cause of “the flu” is actually rhinovirus/enterovirus. Even coronaviruses have long been associated with “the flu”, long before the original SARS outbreak in 2003.
Even in the current “flu” season, actual influenza only accounts for approximately 24% of the flu cases tested by clinical labs to determine the actual virus at issue.
Thus, while this year’s flu season appears more severe than recent prior seasons, based on the percentage of outpatient doctor visits related to ILI, it is already a given that the ILI doctor visits are the result of several pathogens.
This makes the statement on the CDC’s FluView website about that percentage rather pedestrian and silly:
Multiple respiratory viruses are co-circulating, and the relative contribution of influenza virus infection to ILI varies by location.
Multiple viruses circulate every flu season. This is normal behavior during the cold and flu season.
Further establishing the normality of the simultaneous rises in the incidence of COVID-19 (now an endemic member of the ILI pantheon of viruses), Influenza, and RSV is a glaring omission from reports that nursing home staff and patients have not been keeping current with their mRNA inoculation and booster shots.
Moving into the holiday season — and facing a so-called tripledemic of COVID-19/flu/RSV — less than half of nursing-home residents and less than a quarter of staff were up to date with COVID-19 vaccines, a new study found.
KFF found that only 45% of nursing-home residents and 22% of staff were up to date with their COVID-19 vaccines as of Nov. 20, the Sunday before Thanksgiving. Vaccination rates among residents ranged from a low of 24% in Arizona to a high of 73% in South Dakota. Among staff, Alabama scored the lowest at 10%, while California came in highest at 48%.
That glaring omission is the complete lack of any reporting that nursing homes and long-term care facilities are experiencing significant outbreaks of ILI this flu season.
With a demonstrably more severe flu season given the current percentage of ILI-related doctor visits, and given the acknowledgment within articles such as this one by MarketWatch that nursing homes are especially vulnerable to ILI infections and fatalities, it is astounding that an article voicing concern over a lack in nursing homes of mRNA inoculations and booster shots would not report significant outbreaks of ILI in nursing homes were they occurring.
The inevitable conclusion is that, despite a lack of inoculations and boosters, nursing homes and long-term care facilities are not experiencing abnormal incidence of ILI.
This is also yet more evidence that the mRNA shots do not do much if anything to prevent COVID, as a significant non-inoculated nursing home patient population during an unusually severe cold and flu season would almost certainly result in major ILI outbreaks within nursing homes were the shots effective. The lack of such outbreaks indicates the severity of the current cold and flu season is attributable to factors other than inoculation and booster rates.
ILI doctor visits are elevated this year relative to prior years at this point during the normal cold and flu season; the CDC data establishes this unambiguously. Yet the CDC data also establishes that, while the incidence of ILI is indeed more severe this year than in the past, that incidence is still being driven by all the usual suspects, which includes RSV and SARS-CoV-2 in addition to influenza viruses.
Indeed, this being cold and flu season, increased incidence of RSV and even COVID-19 is something we should expect to see, and something we will see not just this year but every year going forward. With the exception of COVID-19, as it is a new member of the ILI pantheon of pathogens, it is what we have seen every year in the past, with varying degrees of severity.
Which makes the rise in RSV and COVID-19 cases alongside a rise in influenza cases not a “tripledemic”, but a normal albeit more severe cold and flu season.
All Facts Matter is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Alternatively, please consider leaving a tip through Ko-Fi. Thank you always for your support.
Kelly, Heath, and Chris Birch. “The causes and diagnosis of influenza-like illness.” Australian family physician vol. 33,5 (2004): 305-9.
Taylor, Sylvia et al. “Respiratory viruses and influenza-like illness: Epidemiology and outcomes in children aged 6 months to 10 years in a multi-country population sample.” The Journal of infection vol. 74,1 (2017): 29-41. doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2016.09.003