What strikes me is that there is not a single confirmed case of influenza so far this year in Korea. Not a single case. Every week they run 100-200 test samples. But for this season, so far, it is nothing but goose eggs. That’s the bottom chart in the report. Of course, they do not test everyone with flu-like symptoms for influenza. I think most doctors have historically just treated influenza-like symptoms as influenza, without the need for a test to confirm. That’s why the top chart shows “influenza like illness” — shown as number of cases per 1000 consultations. The blue line is last year’s flu season. As you can see, the number stopped going up right after coronavirus started making headlines. It dropped off sharply in March, and by April was way below the rates for the previous two years. And that rate has stayed exceptionally low into the current flu season (shown by the red line).
So what do I make of this? I think it is strong evidence that when everyone gets on board with a program, disease can be kept under control. Those who claim that masks and social distancing don’t work — what do they make of this data? Maybe it doesn’t work unless there is widespread compliance. Maybe that’s the key. And maybe that’s why the failure of such measures in Western countries (especially the USA) was always baked into the cake. On that point I think D Benton’s hilarious post earlier today nailed it. That’s a cut and paste keeper.