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In Part 4 of this series of posts, we again explore the assertion that biological weapon deployments result in apocalyptic outcomes. In this example, we revisit what is believed to be the world's largest documented epidemic / epizootic of anthrax, which occurred during the Rhodesian counterinsurgency. The link will take... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
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Here on this blog, the concern that public health surveillance was manipulated in the context of a desire to promote funding for public health and development of a universal influenza vaccine: Manipulated Warnings: The Case Of "Severe" Seasonal Influenza (2017-2018) Some Badly Needed Context: Week 50 Influenza In The United... Continue reading
Posted May 30, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
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It is often proposed that biological weapons represent a threat capable of apocalyptic outcomes. After the conclusion of World War II, members of the Imperial Japanese Army biological warfare Unit 731 testified to a Soviet military court they conducted a live test deployments of plague-infected fleas in China. In October... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
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In Part 1, we discussed the narrative that has tended to exaggerate hypothetical infectious disease threats. One of the biggest infectious disease threats discussed in the media is the "Spanish flu" of 1918. The experience of Philadelphia is often used as the example of the extreme impact. Here is the... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
One narrative that persisted since at least the 1960s is the notion of a catastrophic biological agent of some sort either wiping out humanity or a nation-state. This notion came out of the concern of global proliferation of biological weapons, later amplified as biotechnology evolved over the decades. A key... Continue reading
Posted May 16, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
One of the challenges of disease surveillance is portraying risk in an accurate, ethical manner. One of the tricks of stimulating public response is to present non-contextualized absolute case counts. For example, sharing that 150 people died of a given disease is sure to receive attention by the mass media.... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
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We continue to pick at the claims of public health that we have seen a grossly abnormal influenza season. We have raised concerns regarding the analytic methods used to make claims of unusual severity given there is no current standard to report influenza severity. CDC currently uses a modeled threshold... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
CDC recently released a study that continues to stoke anti-vaccination sentiment. It is an estimate of how effective the 2017-18 seasonal influenza vaccine prevents "medically attended influenza". How they define "medically attended" is: "At five study sites, patients aged ≥6 months seeking outpatient medical care for an ARI with cough... Continue reading
Posted Feb 19, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
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We now have reporting from CDC indicating the hospitalization rates here in the US are very high, with claims of exceeding multiple parameters. However, there are several problems with this reporting. 1. There is no evidence of a vaccine mismatched season of H3N2. In other words, this is simply another... Continue reading
Posted Feb 13, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
Crof, This is neither a pandemic nor necessarily a truly "severe" season of influenza. It is simply an H3N2-dominant season, which is typically associated with more socio-economic disruption than an H1N1-dominant season. There has been tremendous hype borne out of faulty intelligence courtesy of the Australians that got the hype-train running in the first place (http://healthsecurityintelligence.typepad.com/health_security_intellige/2017/12/manipulated-warnings-the-case-of-influenza-2017-2018.html). If you go to Google News Trends and type in "influenza" followed by another search for "CDC budget cuts" for the geographic region of the United States, you will see there is seasonality to media coverage for CDC's budget. This is a rather serious potential influence on coverage of the season that cannot be ignored. Ground truth from the hospital preparedness and emergency management community does not support the claim of excessive severity. We have yet to hear from a single professional who asserts this season is any worse than the 2014-15 season. If you go to CDC WONDER and download the annual age-adjusted mortality rates for pneumonia and influenza, you will see a progressive decline since 1968. This of course raises serious questions about whether we truly understand what "severe" actually means. Bottom line, hype is a significant driver. It is, in my opinion, an element of the "false news" phenomenon that impairs our ability to provide accurate assessments. It is yet another facet of the global inability to provide context to the full range of health security issues we face. It is well past time for perspective and balance in this discourse. James M. Wilson V, MD Director, Nevada Medical Intelligence Center University of Nevada-Reno
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Now that we are at the expected peak of the 2017-2018 influenza, it's time to review the validity of the claims of "early" and "severe" in relation to the known national influenza surveillance data so far. Was the 2017-2018 "early"? Below is a representation of the NEVRSS clinical laboratory surveillance... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2018 at Health Security Intelligence
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The below figure speaks for itself. Current influenza activity in the United States (Week 50), using the exact same method as in this post. This time I have included a pdf to enable zooming in on the details: Download Week 50. These images are directly downloaded from CDC's FluView. Take... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2017 at Health Security Intelligence
I was recently asked about CDC's Influenza Forecasting Program and then asked to address Wired Magazine's question of, "Flu Season Is Here Early. Why Didn't We See It Coming?" The answer to that question begins and ends with proper intelligence assessment. The title of Wired's article says alot. The journalist... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2017 at Health Security Intelligence
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We are seeing media reports emphasizing "widespread" influenza. Let's go right to CDC's FluView, a valuable tool in providing context to the all concern being expressed. What I'm doing is going right to the section labelled "Geographic Spread of Influenza as Assessed by State and Territorial Epidemiologists", which is where... Continue reading
Posted Dec 13, 2017 at Health Security Intelligence
The intelligence concept of HUMINT is often used when discussing human assets in Afghanistan used to find adversaries in the context of war or anti-terrorism operations. In the world of health security intelligence, it is a vital tool to not just ground truth signals received through OSINT or other modalities... Continue reading
Posted Dec 10, 2017 at Health Security Intelligence
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In September, I began to post on LinkedIn regarding a triggered wave of hysteria regarding impending influenza severity for the northern hemisphere. Australian officials spoke of a "severe" influenza season over the summer of 2017, which was picked up by the media using descriptions such as, "Australia hit by worst... Continue reading
Posted Dec 7, 2017 at Health Security Intelligence
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Dec 3, 2017