The headline is interesting -- OVERestimated when the testing was stopped?
"In late July , the CDC abruptly advised states to stop testing for H1N1 flu, and stopped counting individual cases. The rationale given for the CDC guidance to forego testing and tracking individual cases was: why waste resources testing for H1N1 flu when the government has already confirmed there's an epidemic?Some public health officials privately disagreed with the decision to stop testing and counting, telling CBS News that continued tracking of this new and possibly changing virus was important because H1N1 has a different epidemiology, affects younger people more than seasonal flu and has been shown to have a higher case fatality rate than other flu virus strains."
I'll leave it up to go off to the article and explore the fact that even though they were "certain" they had an epidemic, and therefore could stop testng?, their testing wasn't going as expected -- way too many negative tests!
While we waited for CDC to provide the data, which it eventually did, we asked all 50 states for their statistics on state lab-confirmed H1N1 prior to the halt of individual testing and counting in July. The results reveal a pattern that surprised a number of health care professionals we consulted. The vast majority of cases were negative for H1N1 as well as seasonal flu, despite the fact that many states were specifically testing patients deemed to be most likely to have H1N1 flu, based on symptoms and risk factors, such as travel to Mexico.
Also interesting is the guidance to keep on vaccinating for H1N1 even when it is clear there are significant uncertainties -- and how many are infected is very clearly in doubt given that we are "sure it is an epidemic", AND a lot of our tests are negative.
However, the CDC recommendation for those who had "probable" or "presumed" H1N1 flu to go ahead and get vaccinated anyway means the relatively small proportion of those who actually did have H1N1 flu will be getting the vaccine unnecessarily. This exposes them to rare but significant side effects, such as paralysis from Guillain-Barre syndrome.It also uses up vaccine, which is said to be in short supply. The CDC was hoping to have shipped 40 million doses by the end of October, but only about 30 million doses will be available this month.The CDC did not respond to questions from CBS News for this report.
Ah, good old Guillain-Barre syndrome -- an apparition from my Swine Flu college youth!
We aren't too certain of what is going on here, but let's go ahead and use an experimental vaccine on 40 million people anyway. Hey, what could go wrong?