FACT CHECK: Have Zero People Died From The Flu During The 2020-2021 Flu Season?

Elias Atienza | Fact Check Reporter

A viral Facebook post shared over 400 times claims the 2020-2021 influenza season is the first in history “where no one has died from the flu.”

Verdict: False

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data show there have been flu deaths during the 2020-2021 flu season.

Fact Check:

The claim suggesting not a single person has died from the flu during the 2020-2021 season circulated in February, a month where flu activity typically peaks. The timing and duration of flu seasons can vary, but they generally span from October to March, according to the CDC.

While the CDC does report that flu activity has been lower than usual for this time of year, it is inaccurate to say no one in the U.S. has died from the flu during the 2020-2021 season. There were 292 deaths involving the flu between Oct. 1, 2020, and Jan. 16, 2021, according to Today. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims The CDC ‘Will Not Be Providing Data For The Flu’ In The 2020-2021 Season)

The CDC reported in its weekly influenza surveillance report for the week ending Feb. 20 that four deaths had the flu listed as the underlying cause of death. NCHS data displayed on FluView Interactive also shows there have been flu deaths, including 44 flu deaths the week ending Jan. 2, 25 flu deaths the week ending Jan. 16 and 14 flu deaths the week ending Feb. 6. One child has died from the flu so far during this flu season, as compared to 92 reported by the same point last season, the Associated Press reported.

Tracy Hussell, a professor of inflammatory disease at Manchester University, told Reuters that the reduction in flu activity this season is likely due to COVID-19 mitigation measures like social distancing and mask wearing. Other experts have also credited mask wearing, social distancing and virtual schooling, according to the Associated Press.

“Influenza and Corona viruses infect the lungs following inhalation of environmental droplets,” Hussell explained to Reuters. “Since they use a similar transmission route, the measures currently being taken to slow the development of severe COVID-19 disease (social distancing and mask wearing) are likely responsible for the reduction in influenza virus infection in the current 2020/2021 season.”

Check Your Fact previously debunked the claim that there were zero reported influenza or pneumonia deaths in 2020.

Elias Atienza

Fact Check Reporter
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