DANGEROUS: Dr. David Brownstein parrots horribly mistaken “seasonal flu death rate” math error committed by The Gateway Pundit to try to downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic

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Image: DANGEROUS: Dr. David Brownstein parrots horribly mistaken “seasonal flu death rate” math error committed by The Gateway Pundit to try to downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic

(Natural News) There’s no more time to beat around the bush as this pandemic threatens to kill millions of people in the USA alone if we don’t stop prominent indy media writers and publishers from spreading dangerous disinformation. Dr. David Brownstein and Health Impact News are now publishing utterly false, fraudulent misinformation that will grossly mislead readers into thinking the coronavirus case fatality rate is lower than that of the seasonal flu, which they falsely claim kills 10% of those infected.

Dr. Brownstein, sadly, is following the horribly bad “fake math” incident at The Gateway Pundit where Joe Hoft compared estimated seasonal flu deaths to actual confirmed tests of seasonal flu carriers to arrive at the misinformed conclusion that the seasonal flu has a 10% case fatality rate. From this, Joe Hoft appeared on InfoWars and told host Alex Jones that the coronavirus was a “sham,” further contributing to InfoWars’ previous reporting of the pandemic as a “hoax.”

I contacted Jim Hoft (the brother of Joe Hoft) and explained the correct mathematics in this Natural news article, requesting The Gateway Pundit retract or correct the erroneous article. No correction was forthcoming, since Joe Hoft is convinced the seasonal flu kills 10% of those it infects (which would produce 3 – 5 million dead Americans every winter, if such an insane belief were actually true).

Now, Dr. David Brownstein has picked up the same bad math and repeated it on the Health Impact News website in an article with the horribly misleading title, “Dr. Brownstein: COVID-19 is Much Less Deadly than the Common Flu.”

It probably goes without saying, but that article discredits everything Dr. Brownstein has ever said. It all comes down to basic math.

No, Dr. Brownstein, the common flu fatality rate isn’t 10%… it’s not even close

To arrive at this false, misleading disinfo headline, Dr. Brownstein borrows the bad math page right out of the Joe Hoft / Gateway Pundit playbook. It goes like this:

Take the number of estimated flu deaths from the CDC (23,000) and divide by the number of actual flu specimens tested by the CDC (231,000) to arrive at 0.10 or 10% case fatality rate for the seasonal flu.

Except there’s one problem with this bad math: It’s BAD MATH. Wholly dishonest.

Dr. Brownstein and Health Impact News should retract their article and issue an immediate correction.

As I explain in detail in this Natural News article, you can’t take “estimated” divided by “actual” to get accurate numbers, since the CDC extrapolates its estimates into much larger numbers to try to cover the entire US population. The only way to have accurate math is to use:

Estimated deaths / Estimated infections


Actual deaths / Actual infections

If you use estimated numbers for both the numerator and denominator, based on CDC numbers, you get this:

Fatality rate = 22,000 (estimated) / 36 million (estimated)

And what does that answer come to?


That’s not “six percent.” It’s actually “six-tenths of one-tenth of one percent,” or stated another way, “Six-one-hundredths of one percent.”

Or stated another way, it means that for every 1,636 people who are infected, ONE person dies from the seasonal flu (in this season).

Dr. Brownstein is off by two orders of magnitude

When he claims that 10% of the people who get the seasonal flu die from it, Dr. Brownstein is off by more than two orders of magnitude. And he should know better, as he himself has previously stated in his own articles that the case fatality rate from the seasonal flu is 0.1%. (Now he says it’s 10% as a way to try to downplay the severity of the coronavirus.)

If the death rate from the seasonal flu were really 10% as Dr. Brownstein falsely claims, there would be between 3 and 5 million dead Americans every winter from the flu alone. Where are all the dead bodies, Dr. Brownstein? They don’t exist for the simple reason that the seasonal flu doesn’t have a 10% case fatality rate. Not even close.

In his dangerously misleading article, Dr. Brownstein then claims that the coronavirus case fatality rate in Italy is 8%, which he says is lower than the seasonal flu death rate!

This is bad, dangerous, false and misleading information coming from someone who should frankly know better, and I’m tired of teaching people basic math that should be well understood by anyone who calls themselves a doctor.

The actual coronavirus case fatality rate of concluded cases in the USA is, right now, 72%

Here’s the real story on this: Of the cases which are concluded in the USA, 28% have been discharged and sent home, and 72% have died. That means so far the case fatality rate of concluded infections in the USA is actually 72%. Via Worldometers.info:

This doesn’t mean the 72% rate will stay that high, since many people are still in the process of recovering from “mild” conditions and will be released from hospitals over the subsequent days and weeks. That 72% will likely fall well below 10% at some point.

But the seasonal flu case fatality rate is less than 0.1%, according to the CDC. And you can see the CDC numbers right on their own web page where they also explain that the “22,000 deaths” cited by Dr. Brownstein is a projected estimated, not an actual confirmed number.

The CDC publishes its estimates at this CDC.gov web page:


There, you’ll see that the estimates for the 2018 – 2019 flu season calculate that roughly 35.5 million Americans got infected with the flu, 490,561 people required hospitalization, and 34,157 people died.

34,000 deaths out of 35.5 million infected is almost exactly a 0.1% case fatality rate, which is 100 times lower than what Dr. David Brownstein is claiming.

There is an epidemic of stupidity spreading across the independent media

Dr. Brownstein is not just wrong, he’s dangerously wrong and spewing truly bad, misleading, dangerous disinformation that may dissuade people from taking the kind of actions that can prevent coronavirus infections and save lives.

It’s almost as if there’s an epidemic of stupidity now working its way through the conservative-leaning independent media, where all these people at prominent conservative publishers who tell themselves they don’t want the coronavirus to be very bad are finding all sorts of mathematically illiterate ways to convince themselves of their own delusion.

People who believe Dr. Brownstein, or Joe Hoft, or any other denialism writer are going to end up getting other people infected and killed.

And that’s just flat-out not acceptable.

Joe Hoft at The Gateway Pundit, retract your misleading article.

Dr. David Brownstein, retract your misleading article.

And shame on you both for not checking your math before publishing such dangerous disinformation in the middle of a deadly global pandemic that will undoubtedly kill millions of people, perhaps some people who believed your propaganda and told themselves the coronavirus was, “no worse than the flu.”

You are playing with people’s lives. You are directly convincing people to avoid taking this seriously, and your actions are highly irresponsible, even negligent.

Shame on you. Apologize to the world for your error and correct it immediately. Real lives are at stake here, and you have a responsibility to get this right.

This is not a debate. This is not my “opinion.” Your numbers are horribly, dangerously, maliciously wrong, and you are misleading people in a way that may get them killed.

I will not stand by and remain silent while you get people killed, and I have no more patience for all the deniers and liars who are frankly just repeating communist China propaganda in downplaying the seriousness of the coronavirus. If I didn’t know any better, I might think these people are on Beijing’s payroll.

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