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Data methods show gap between US, Chinese flu-related deaths


May 11, 2014
Russian Federation
Data methods show gap between US, Chinese flu-related deaths

By Hu Yuwei Source:Global Times Published: 2020/1/2

A child receives treatment at Beijing Children's Hospital in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 10, 2018. (Xinhua/Zhang Yuwei)

Chinese netizens expressed concerns over an influenza epidemic in the US that infected 13 million people and killed more than 6,600, while fighting the deadly coronavirus that has killed at least nine back home.

Analysts noted the US mortality rate looks much higher than China's because of the two countries' different statistical methods. The response came after some net users questioned whether the high death rate shows the ineffective control of flu in the US and how different countries should cooperate effectively to curb the new coronavirus-related disease.

The flu epidemic in the US eased during the week of January 5-11 but remains active, with an estimated 13-18 million cases of flu illnesses documented since the start of the season, a latest report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.

The agency also estimates between 6,600 and 17,000 deaths related to influenza since October 1, 2019.

Official Chinese data of flu-caused deaths is much lower, with Chinese CDC data showing that in 2018, there were more than 700,000 cases and 144 deaths.

But there was an epidemic in early 2019. In January 2019, the number of flu cases in the Chinese mainland reached 608,511, with 143 deaths. In the first five months of 2019 alone, the number of reported cases of influenza reached 1.77 million, exceeding the total of the past four years.

Chinese netizens questioned why the flu death rate in China is much lower than that in the US given the overall coverage of flu vaccines in China is less than 2 percent, far lower than the rate of developed countries, including the US. Some doubted the effectiveness of the vaccines.

"The US flu mortality rate includes cases where flu causes other illnesses to worsen and lead to death, while China only counts people who die directly from flu," an observer who prefers to be anonymous told the Global Times.

The statistical methods used by the Chinese CDC should be revised, as deaths from pneumonia caused by the flu, for example, are not counted, the observer said.

Observers called for an improved statistical approach, and encouraged the public to get an annual flu shot.

An analysis led by Chinese scientists published in The Lancet Public Health in September 2019 found that there were 84,200 to 92,000 flu-related deaths in China each year, accounting for 8.2 percent of all deaths from respiratory diseases.



Aug 2, 2017
Maybe because it's just flu...

You know East Asian, they think the flu is just a light sick and can be cured while taking a rest at home.

And no one, even healthcare staffs will think it's a serious problem as well.


Jul 28, 2010
Death from flu is very common. The thing about the Wuhan flu is because it is new and make people think of SARS, and also the wide spread reporting on news media.

Saturday, January 25, 2020
Between 291,000 and 646,000 people die each year globally from seasonal influenza-related respiratory illnesses, according to new estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and global health partners.

The new estimates are higher than the previous estimate of 250,000 to 500,000 deaths annually. The estimates were calculated using data from 47 countries between 1999 and 2015, and exclude deaths during pandemics

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