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Monday, 27 April 2009

Flu pandemic - don't panic, Mr Mainwaring

Until the superb Numberwatch crunches the numbers, here's my take on the risk.

The strain that has emerged in Mexico is the same as the H1N1 strain that caused the 1918/1919 pandemic, so let's look at that pandemic.

A third of the population were infected. Of that third, mortality rates were somewhat greater than 2.5%. Mortality was concentrated amongst young adults; children and older adults suffered a lower mortality.

In this pandemic an absolutely worst case of 750k deaths in the UK has been forecast - about in line with the 1918/19 infection. Except they didn't have Tamiflu, or an NHS, or all the things we have now. We also live less crowded lives.

And I shall cough alarmingly at the first idiot I see wearing a face mask on the train or on the street.


Bill Quango MP said...

We also live less crowded lives.
Are you sure?

I don't get the mask thing either. They wear them all the time for colds in Japan. Doesn't seem to stop the colds though. If it did, why are they still wearing them?

Nick Drew said...

Hopefully your line of thought is correct, R.

there is a precedent: before WW2, extrapolating from bombing-raid casualties in WW1 and the Spanish Civil War, the authorities confidently expected civilian deaths in vastly greater numbers than actually materialised (bad though they were)

they anticipated 250,000 (sic) in London alone, and debated whether to bury them in the gravel-pits at Heathrow, or float them out on the Thames at high tide

of course, the high vulnerability to air raids of WW1 and Spain were not at all representative of conditions in the well-prepared Britain of WW2

Anonymous said...

They also didn't have the media back then who would mention the 'deadly' flu virus every ten minutes.
And assume that all flu was swine flu.

Letters From A Tory said...

It's all scaremongering and from the moment I heard about this I have completely ignored it.

What a load of rubbish.

Bill Quango MP said...

I would agree with everyone, except for a Royal college friend. I asked him about Bird Flu last time round. He was scathing.He cited bird flu's poor transferability to humans, its very long incubation time, its slow spread in the body etc. Its a hopeless virus, nothing to worry about at all. more people will die from Asthma in Beijing than bird Flu over the same period.

I was reassured, until he said, "mind you, the next one will kill billions."

Blue Eyes said...

Que sera, sera.

talwin said...

Government quite happy with the swine flu 'crisis'. Nicely diverting attention from talk about disastrous budgets, mega-borrowing, 50% tax hike, banks, smear emails, Ed Ball's lies, Brown being made a (further) prat in Pakistan and Poland, etc., etc. while the tame but sensationalist MSM are flogging the 'we're all going to die' scenario'. What is it so far in dear old Blighty? Two Scots recovering from 'mild' flu. FFS hundreds die of flu in this country every sodding year.

Anonymous said...

Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARS, Global Warming, CJD, Salmonella....



Whatever, they're all the same - a reason to take our money and boss us about.

it's either banned or compulsory said...

I'm busy watching my collection of zombie movies.