Corona Context: The Average Italian Flu Season Harvests 17 Thousand Lives, in 2016-17 It Was 25 Thousand

And in the winter of 2014-15 the country experienced 54,000 unexplained excess deaths and nobody blinked

Some much-needed context to properly place the 6,000 deaths in Italy so far of people who tested positive for covid-19 (or so we are told):

Using the Goldstein index, the total number of excess deaths attributable to influenza in the 4-season study period was 68,068. [For the average of 17,000 per year.] The average annual mortality excess rate (MR) ranged from 11.6 to 41.2 per 100,000. Most of the influenza-associated deaths per year were among elderly individuals (≥65 years) (Table 3). During the 2014/15 and 2016/17 seasons, the influenza-attributable excess mortality was higher compared to 2013/14 and 2015/16. The total number of excess influenza-attributable deaths during the 2014/15 season was 20,259, three times as high compared to the previous season; and most of the influenza-attributable excess deaths were among individuals ≥65 years (96.1%, N = 19,475). A similar pattern was observed during the 2016/17 season, when the number of influenza-attributable excess deaths was 24,981, 58.1% higher compared to the 2015/16 season and 23.3% higher compared to the 2014/15 season.

6,000 deaths from covid-19 alone is a considerable number. It likely means the Italian 2019-20 flu season will be counted as one of the worst, perhaps the worst in a long time. But it’s also important to understand there is nothing unprecedented about many thousands of mainly elderly Italians perishing in viral lung infection pandemics. To the contrary, it happens with such regularity you could set your calendar to it.

Also I would offer a few caveats:

  • Just because covid-19 was present it does not mean it was the cause of death. It could have been a pre-existing condition or even another virus for which we do not have a test (for most we don’t). Having your immune system weakened by one virus will make you more susceptible to another and hospitals are one of the best places to catch one.
  • We don’t really know what exactly covid-19 tests measure and how reliable they are. A German pulmonologist has warned they were approved without going through the normal validation procedure. We do not know if there are false positives and how many.

And one other thing:

In recent years, Italy has been registering peaks in death rates, particularly among the elderly during the winter season. A mortality rate of 10.7 per 1,000 inhabitants was observed in the winter season 2014/2015 (more than 375,000 deaths in absolute terms), corresponding to an estimated 54,000 excess deaths (+9.1%) as compared to 2014 (Signorelli and Odone, 2016), representing the highest reported mortality rate since the Second World War in Italy (UN, 2019). Although the above-described excess mortality created concern among researchers, health authorities and public health experts, it has been challenging to identify its determinants (Signorelli and Odone, 2016).

During the winter season 2014-15 Italy experienced 54,000 (partly unexplained) excess deaths and nobody blinked. We are still very far from such numbers for covid-19.

In light of such figures what might be prudent and justified would be closing your border to Italy, but to lockdown entire continents doesn’t seem warranted by these numbers at all.


Looking at the assumed Italian covid-19 body count broken up by regions it seems undeniable there is a problem of some nature in Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, but even for Italy itself it’s difficult to understand why the rest of the country couldn’t have simply sheltered its most vulnerable segment of the population and gone on with their lives as normal. (Except that the hysterical media and the busy-body virtue signalers would have crucified the government if that was what it opted for.)

Flu-attributable mortality
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