Influenza Influenced: What ‘flu season’?

In the northern hemisphere, October through March is flu season (流感  or “liugan” in Traditonal Mandarin).  Almost every year, a new variant appears, new flu shots are developed, and millions inoculated in hope of preventing a mass outbreak.  Most years, they’re successful though once in a while they aren’t (e.g. SARS, MERS, H1N1).

Then along comes the 2020-2021 flu season.  And nothing happens.  Flu has been so rare this year that it’s not even being deemed a health concern by the governments of many countries.  I’m sure that some of the less educated (e.g. COVID deniers and anti-maskers) will say, “flu is fake, just like COVID!” while others will wrongly guess, “COVID-19 replaced the flu!”

No.  Flu has been a non-issue this year because measures intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are exactly the measures needed to prevent the spread of flu: masks, hand washing and sanitizing, and social distancing.  It shouldn’t surprise anyone paying attention that the number of influenza cases and deaths is at near record lows.

How low?

Here in Taiwan, the 2019-2020 season saw 75 deaths and hundreds of cases.  This year, Taiwan’s Centre for Disease Control reports one hospitalization and zero deaths for the entire island of 24,000,000 people since October.  That’s unheard of.  (The link above comes from this site, the two images below taken from the PDF.  The “express” is a weekly report.)  We had more cases of and deaths from Dengue Fever than this last summer.

More below the fold.


The US’s CDC Flu Season Report says the same thing, less than 1,600 cases for the entire country.  Cases for 2020-2021 are roughly one percent of 2019-2020 (first image), and one death across the whole of the US (second image).  Both images come from the latest US CDC weekly report.



Health Canada reports the same thing, record lows of cases and deaths.  There are only 65 cases in the entire country this year (latest weekly report).  And it’s the same story in other countries.  (Image below from Health Canada’s latest report.)



The questions now on my mind:

Will people learn that actions have consequences, both positive and negative?

Will people get in the habit of masking up during the winter to stop diseases?  (Bonus: it keeps your face warm in the cold.)

Will anti-maskers and the selfish finally remove their craniums from their rectums and admit that masks save lives?  (On that one, I won’t hold my breath.)


  1. brucegee1962 says

    One other question: after this terrible year (from the flu virus’ perspective), how long will it take it to repopulate us up to previous levels?

  2. says

    I remember near the start of this when there were people saying the numbers won’t be that bad, it’ll be just like the flu. I looked at the flu numbers and thought how are people fine with this on an annual basis?

    We’re not going to learn from it though. The numbers will go back up because we’ve discovered that for most people there is an acceptable number of other people dying as long as that means there isn’t even the slightest inconvenience to them.

  3. lanir says

    This was the one good thing I was hoping would come out of the pandemic from the start. As soon as I realized we were going to have to isolate I started wondering what the flu season would look like. It’s not that I’m fixated on the flu, I just try to think of any good things that might come out of bad events I can’t do anything about. But while I was hoping for good news on this I wasn’t expecting it to be that good!

    Sadly I also woefully underestimated our willingness to kill ourselves and those around us in the US, too. I didn’t have any scientific basis for either guess. I just kind of looked at how things seemed to be going and made a guess at how much more “going” they’d do.