I can’t believe people are still saying ‘media hype’ and ‘more people die from normal flu’. Here are a few sobering calculations. In America (the numbers I have available), 50 million people get the normal flu each year. The normal flu has a fatality rate of only 0.08%, which means 36,000 people die from it each year. That number obviously dwarfs the number that have died so far from this new swine flu.
It’s very early days, and I suspect this figure is low if anything, but it looks as though the fatality rate from the new flu is about 2.6%. That means that if the same 50 million people in the US caught this flu, 1.3 million people would die. Scale it up to the world population and it would be 26 million. I hope and pray that won’t happen, but the WHO has lifted the pandemic alert level to 5 of a possible 6 this morning. This is more than just media hype.
Dismissing ‘bird flu’ because ‘it’s only killed 500 people’, as I saw someone do, is equally ignorant. Bird flu so far has remained in bird populations, so only people in close contact with birds have got it and died from it. Same as swine flu, until very recently. But the mutation of swine flu has meant that it is now passing human-to-human… and look at how rapidly it’s spreading around the world. The bird flu pandemic has not happened yet, and won’t until the bird flu virus H5N1 mutates into a human-to-human transmissible form. Pray it never does.