Update: about the swine flu epidemic
Part 2 in a series about the swine flu pandemic, and the evidence that governments have used this as an excuse to claim wide and disturbing new powers. Other chapters:
(1) What about all the hype, the extreme warnings, about swine flu?, 3 September 2009.
(3) Is the Swine Flu pandemic being used to an excuse to expand government powers (UK edition)?, 14 October 2009
(4) Who to blame for the delay in producing the swine flu vaccine?, 4 November 2009
(5) More about the swine flu pandemic: about Cassandras, 26 November 2009
- Stratfor’s summary
- Recent articles about Swine Flu
- Sources of information about Swine Flu
(1) Stratfor: A(H1N1): Just Another Flu, 14 September 2009 — As always, Stratfor provides an excellent summary. Excerpt:
It has been five months since the A(H1N1) influenza virus — aka the swine flu — climbed to the top of the global media heap, and with the start of the Northern Hemisphere’s annual flu season just around the corner, the topic is worth revisiting.
If you take only one fact away from this analysis, take this: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that hospitalization rates and mortality rates for A(H1N1) are similar to or lower than they are for more traditional influenza strains. And if you take two facts away, consider this as well: Influenza data are incomplete at best and rarely cross-comparable, so any assertions of the likelihood of mass deaths are little more than scaremongering bereft of any real analysis or, more important, any actual evidence.
Now to the details. …
So, while the flu will pose a significant logistical and public relations challenge to governments seeking to prevent outbreaks and control the virus’ spread, there is no indication that A(H1N1) will cause even a shadow of the disruption that the hysteria of months past suggested.
… More infections and deaths are sure to follow — as winter sets in, the rate will increase. And there is always the chance that A(H1N1) will mutate into a more deadly strain — in fact, this is precisely what occurred with the 1918 Spanish influenza virus. But, at present, neither the WHO nor the CDC appears to suspect that A(H1N1) is any more deadly than any other seasonal flu.
The critical factor to bear in mind is that all strains of influenza claim thousands of lives every year. In the United States, on average, some 36,000 people die of flu every year – 1,100 in New York alone. Globally, deaths related to influenza are estimated to range from 250,000 to 500,000 people per year. So far this year, only about 3,000 people have died worldwide in relation to the A(H1N1) outbreak, and most of those deaths occurred during the flu season in the Southern Hemisphere. From a statistical perspective, at present, A(H1N1) nearly falls into the range of background noise.
(2) Recent articles about swine flu
- “Swine flu: nothing new“, Turi McNamee, True/Slant, 26 April 2009 — Cuting thru the hype.
- “Swine flu could exceed hospital capacity in 15 states“, USA Today, 3 October 2009
- “Flu Nightmare: In Severe Pandemic, Officials Ponder Disconnecting Ventilators From Some Patients“, Sheri Fink, ProPublica, 23 September 2009
- “Pandemic Payoff from 1918: A Weaker H1N1 Flu Today“, Christine Soares, Scientific American, October 2009
- “US, Other Nations Stop Counting Pandemic Flu Cases“, AP, 9 October 2009
- “Does the Vaccine Matter?“, Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, The Atlantic, November 2009
- “Facts About Swine Flu“, Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer, The Atlantic, 14 October 2009
(3) Sources of information about the Swine flu
(a) From the Centers for Disease Control
(b) From the World Health Organization information about Pandemic (H1N1) 2009
(c) The US government’s site: FLU.gov.
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