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Tuesday, 19 February 2019

The flu

By now, I am almost fully recovered from the flu that started some 2 weeks ago. Similar to 2015 - 2018, there is again a flu epidemic. Since the 2009 flu epidemic, the Dutch government is monitoring its impact on mortality rates. Dutch mortality rates have been rising following the flu epidemics ever since the winter of 2014/2015 (RIVM).

NL Times, 14 Feb 2019: "Nationwide the number of people with the flue also increased sharply, after a few weeks of decline. According to health institute Nivel, 96 out of each 100 thousand people in the Netherlands went to a GP with flu symptoms last week. The week before that it was 59 out of 100 thousand. If more than 51 out of 100 thousand people have the flu for two consecutive weeks, it is considered an epidemic."

In June 2018, a Dutch newspaper reported that Dutch longevity is stalling (a.k.a. no longer increasing) due to these waves of flu epidemics. In 2019, another Dutch newspaper reported that actuaries have negatively adjusted the expected increase in Dutch longevity - for the first time ever. This adjustment will benefit Dutch pension funds (FD).

Other countries reported similar trend reversals in formerly declining mortality rates:
  • Canada: "British Columbia’s average life expectancy drops for first time in decades due to surge in overdose deaths" (The Star-2018);
  • UK: due to "bad flu season and excess winter deaths [] from 2015 to 2017" (BBC);
  • USA: "U.S. Life Expectancy Drops for Third Year in a Row, Reflecting Rising Drug Overdoses, Suicides" (my 2018 blog).

There are also some other (very) interesting trends:

In 1918, the deadliest ever global flu epidemic, or pandemic, "infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed an estimated 20 million to 50 million victims" (History). This flu pandemic is better known under its, slightly misleading, nickname the Spanish flu.

The Medicine Song (1984) by Stephanie Mills


Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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