A vaccine needed for bad statistics

April 28, 2009

ericauchard1– Eric Auchard is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own —

If you look no further than the latest headlines, you might think a worldwide flu pandemic was already underway with a very real threat to millions of lives.

While there are many unanswered questions early on in the outbreak of flu from Mexico, it is crucial to remember that the number of deaths and reported infections remain small — even if its spread across the globe has proved worryingly rapid.

While the infected need access to medical care and anti-viral drugs, the rest of the world needs an inoculation against scary statistics and misinformation.

The Internet Age allows facts and rumour to spread almost instantaneously. But knowing of outbreaks across the globe must not be confused with risks of catching the disease.

Already in this outbreak, Lebanon’s health minister has called for a halt to the national custom of greeting one another with kisses. Several countries including Russia and China have banned pork imports from Mexico and parts of the United States in the belief that meat could spread the flu.

So far, up to 149 are reported to have died of swine flu in Mexico. The World Health Organisation has upgraded the level of pandemic threat to four on a scale of six — sustained human-to-human transmission. Stage five signals an “imminent” pandemic.

However, influenza is a big killer every year, with or without a pandemic.

WHO estimates flu kills upward of 250,000 to 500,000 people year after year. “Normal” flu epidemics infect 3 to 5 million a year. Statistics are complicated by inconsistent reporting. Flu often leads to other ailments that end up being listed as the ultimate cause of death.

Flu’s typical victims are the elderly, the infirm or the young. The difference with swine flu outbreak in Mexico is that otherwise healthy adults aged 20-50 are vulnerable.

But so far the new swine flu death rates are lower than other recent pandemic scares, a report by Barclays Capital notes. The 2,200 swine flu infections reported have resulted in deaths in 7 percent of cases. Avian flu has killed 61 percent of the 421 people infected since 1997. The death rate from SARS was around 10 percent.

Outside Mexico, 50 infections have been reported in the United States, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Spain and Scotland. But health experts are baffled that infections outside Mexico appear to be milder and have caused no deaths.

The world’s most recent flu pandemic 41 years ago was the 1968 Hong Kong outbreak, which claimed one million lives.

Historically, pandemics occur about three times a century. But like predictions of the next big earthquake, medical experts profess they have no idea when to expect the next pandemic.

Inevitably, comparisons end up turning back to the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920, which killed more than 50 million people, or 2.5 percent of the world’s population.

That scourge followed the massive troop movements of World War One at a time of poor communications and before the invention of penicillin and modern healthcare systems. Post-war censorship rules restricted access to news, which limited the ability of communities to make informed decisions to protect themselves against the spread of the flu.

The descent into a global pandemic is not inevitable. Air travel may spread the disease in its early stages, but modern communications and medicine can arm us to respond quickly as the disease evolves.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Eric is absolutely right.

The media must stop scaring people with numbers that in the big picture are meaningless.

Thank you Eric for putting some sanity to this.

Posted by Anthony | Report as abusive

Finally, a journalist not succumbing to hysteria over this swine flu business. Thank you very much, sir, for an intelligent analysis of this viral outbreak. A shame other practitioners of the ‘media art’ still believe that ‘If it bleeds, it leads’.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

It is to early to declare a death rate of the swine flu. The 7 procent you state is based on uncertain information from mexico. WHO says only 7 deaths are confirmed to be caused by H1N1, or swine flu. The statistics are also based on the number of reported cases who are hospitilaised. The real number of infected could be alot higher in mexico, if you count people who havent sought medical treatment. This would dramaticaly lower the death rate. My point is that you are basing this percentage on really bad statistics.

Posted by Johan Rengstedt | Report as abusive

@”That scourge followed the massive troop movements of World War One at a time of poor communications and before the invention of penicillin and modern healthcare systems.”

What does penicillin have to do with viral influenza?? Do you wanted to say that now we are safer because we have antibiotics? Would be quite monumental ignorance.

Posted by zenon | Report as abusive

Es correcto el enfoque de analizar la información de manera más objetiva. Es necesario estar prevenidos contra la falta de ética de los medios que propagan información del todo inexacta. Ojalá se profundice más en ese aspecto.

Posted by Norma Sánchez T | Report as abusive

Wow! If the rest of the media would refrain from using attention grabbing headlines and statistics, our lives would be much more free from media induced stress. Thank you.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

Amen Eric! We’ve been talking amongst ourselves at work about just how much hype their is in this story — you’d think we were experiencing the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak all over again…

Posted by steve | Report as abusive

The difference between swine flu and SARs was how the virus was spread. Swine flu affects many more people more rapidly. Suppose you have an attack rate of just 10% and a case fatality rate of 1% (significantly lower than the 7% cited by Eric and this is possible if the denominator in Mexico’s numbers are much lower than estimated) in metropolitan area of 20m people. 2m will fall ill and 20,000 will die in that city alone. Lets not be too flippant about this.

Posted by Ben | Report as abusive

The worry concerning viruses that transfer from farm grown animals to humans and then from human to human has been greatly ignored by the media, in spite of warnings from public health officials for years that a terrible pandemic was not only possible, but inevitable. If anything, due to politics, governments around the world are being too conservative in dealing with this outbreak. When it comes to statistics it way too early to make any judgement about the percentage of deaths. People need to take this seriously and do the one thing that is most protctive and wash their hands every chance they get, at least for 25 to 50 seconds (try counting some time this is much longer than you think).

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

While labled Swine Flu, this is a hybrid containing DNA from Avian Flu, but is aparently easily transmitable between humans. To try to say this is just another Flu bug is less than factual. Personaly I would take this out break seriously.

Posted by Jim Hardy | Report as abusive

An ignorant analysis predicated on the two mistaken beliefs that 7% is a low mortality rate and that waiting until the problem is obviously a serious problem, as indicated by the number of cases, is a safe plan.
The mortality rate in the 1918 flu pandemic was 2%. Multiply that by 50 million and see what you get. SARS and Avian influenza have thousands only or less. The growth rate in an influenza epiemic is exponential. Once you have lots of cases in your community you are guaranteed thousands of cases very soon. Do the math, read some history, read something about epidemic influenza, and learn.

Posted by David Buhner | Report as abusive

Sorry, but unknowns are scary. We don’t know about a lot of things in this: the source, infection rates, death rates, even mutation rates. Even your estimates amount to random guesses based on too-little information.

Young, otherwise health people are dying in Mexico from a new and poorly-defined virus. Comparing it to seasonal flu deaths is unfair because those deaths are usually the “otherwise vulnerable.” It’s sad, but we’re used to this. We’re not used to thinking that WE could die from being sneezed on. That’s scary stuff. That’s good cause for reasonable concern.

Then, factor in the unreasonable reactions that are bound to come up. Politicians that want to be re-elected by unreasonable constituents are, without any doubt, going to be pressured into making unreasonable decisions.

Then, factor in the opportunistic reactions, like using any old excuse that comes along to protect against imports competing with local producers. There’s bound to be a lot of that.

A lot of stuff is going to happen the next while and little of it will be good. Most of it will be human-caused nonsense, but that’s just the way it is. I don’t see how blaming the media will make any difference. If they didn’t report every little tidbit of information, updated hourly, with detailed comparisons to every other epidemic that ever happened, then the bloggers would do it for them. People will be as afraid as they want to be, and potentially-deadly unknowns are scary.

Posted by FixerDave | Report as abusive

…and with the seemingly omni-present 24/7 media coverage of Iraq, the US Presidency and “the economy” losing its collective luster, unfortunately “the media” has a new focal point — and it includes the easiest and most dangerous words that can be woven into journalism: “could” and “might.” If we removed those words alone from the average daily newscast there would be a lot of “dead air” to fill!

Posted by Len | Report as abusive

Jim – most flu is a blend. This is a new blend, but nothing ‘special’. It happens to be H1N1, which is the same as the ‘Spanish Flu’ of 1918, and deaths in the 20-50 age group is particularly unusual (similar, in fact, to the 1918 flu). But Eric’s main argument is completely sound. The numbers are way too low to draw any conclusions from since the ‘error bar’ is huge. This flu is essentially ‘contained’ at the moment, since we’re not seeing infections doubling every day.

Posted by Nic Fulton | Report as abusive

“The numbers are way too low to draw any conclusions from since the ‘error bar’ is huge. This flu is essentially ‘contained’ at the moment, since we’re not seeing infections doubling every day.”

You say the error bar is huge, then you go on to rely on the erroneous information to decide infections are not doubling. You have no idea how many infections there are! No one does right now. It can take 1-4 days to identify this virus in a single patient. There are tens of millions of poor people in Mexico with no real health care.

As for this editorial-it is so lacking in scientific merit that I question Rueters judgment. To say that the number of deaths is not so worrying because the number of total cases is probably much higher-how do you know there are not now or soon many more deaths? And to think that our health care system will be any help, how absurd. It would be utterly overwhelmed by the first hundred thousand-the hospitals are already full! What killed millions of people during the Spanish Flu was lack of care. Their loved ones were sick or dead, and they lay in bed, dehydrated and drowning as their lungs filled with fluid. Do more research, talk to a virologist!

Posted by Sylvia Smith | Report as abusive

And as for the penicillin, whilst not effective against viral flu, it will do the business against the opportunistic bacterial infections which are often the killer complications of flu itself.

Posted by Colin Wills | Report as abusive

I suggest you look at the update WHO report as of yesterday.

7 confirmed deaths all in Mexico. Not in the hundreds. It is after all flu season and now anyone with a sniffle will panic

Posted by observer | Report as abusive

just a quick question; in your article you mention that the 1918 to 1920 flu pandemic was set against the backdrop of a world without penicillin. How is the development of antibiotics relevant to a viral infection for which they are useless against?

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

I think there’s a difference in HOW it’s affecting people. It isnt affecting the elderly alone, it’s affecting ALL ages, whereas the flu we are used to, affects the elderly and at risks and those are the ones that are dying more readily. But that isnt the case with the swine flu. It’s affecting & killing all ages/risk groups. And the vaccine TwinFlu or whatever – they are only going to give it to the elderly and at risk ones. What about the rest of us?!?!?!

Posted by Rachel | Report as abusive

I’ve seen this all before in 1977 when we lined up to get our “swine flu” shot in the Air Force. Now, like then, we have no idea if it’s “the big one” or not. Use common sense and don’t buy the hype.

Posted by Adrian | Report as abusive

I agree with the notion that the media spreads information that, occasionally, tends to be false and that, due to the internet age, this information gets to Americans at a rapid pace. However, I do have a problem with your argument that is accompanied by statistics. First, you argue that this specific flu is getting out of control, basically, because of the media and that past flu’s have actually taken more lives and have a much greater percent of deaths. I am unable to see the parallel when you say “Avian flu has killed 61 percent of the 421 people infected since 1997. The death rate from SARS was around 10 percent.” These are to purport that the deaths are incomparible and, thus, the swine flu is not as bad as others and should be seen this way. But, these cases of the swine flu have occured within a one week, perhaps less or more, period of time, where the Avian flu has 421 people infected (a lesser number), from 12 years ago and counting. These numbers are hardly comparible.

Posted by Mells | Report as abusive

– What do I do if I suspect I have swine flu?

Become a recluse until your symptoms disappear. Stay home, rest and drink lots of fluids.

-What should I do if I get sick?
If you live in areas where swine influenza cases have been identified and become ill with influenza-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, runny nose, sore throat, nausea, or vomiting or diarrhea, you may want to contact their health care provider, particularly if you are worried about your symptoms. Your health care provider will determine whether influenza testing or treatment is needed.

If you are sick, you should stay home and avoid contact with other people as much as possible to keep from spreading your illness to others.

Here is a news paper article and info from the CDC web site. Basically if you are an adult in good health your going to have the flu. If you are very old or very young or have a bad immune system you will get the flu which whether it is swine or any other type it is a serious risk to your life and you need to get medical attention fast.

If you are a healthy adult you have little more to worrie about wxcept catching the damn flu. Since the majority of cases will not be reported due to mild cases the odds are you will most likely to pick this up in the office or from you school kids.

Here is my advice:

Drink lots of non-dairy fluids (cranberry juice and ginger ale are the best mixing them isn’t bad either or green or black tea and hot toddies are great)

Take vitamins B & C

Quercetin (see below link)

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/200 8/09/080903080858.htm

Bovine Colostrum is another supplement which has been proven to boost the immune system and fight the Flu. It can be found at your local vitamin shop.

50mg of zinc three times a day for three days

Colloidal Silver – use as directed based upon concentration.
Immune System Support. Colloidal silver is a catalyst, disabling the particular enzyme that all one celled bacteria, funguses and viruses, use for their oxygen metabolism – they suffocate. Resistant strains fail to develop, and the body does not develop a tolerance. Yet it is of no harm to human enzymes or any part of the human body chemistry

Lastly make sure you eat chicken soup.

Chicken Soup for Colds and Flu
One chicken (about 5lb)
A package of wings (about 10)
Celery tops leaves and all washed
1 bunch of parsley stems
The washed green tops of two leeks
Washed carrot(3)/turnip(1)/parsnip(1) peelings
1 level tbl of poultry seasoning
2 tsp of salt
Put in medium large stock pot, cover with water-2”above chicken, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and let simmer for 5 hours (overnight is ok as long as it is a low simmer).
Strain broth and de-bone chicken.
Allow broth to cool in refrigerator then remove the fat
Add ½ of the chicken back to the broth.
Chop: celery and leek bottoms, peeled carrots, turnip and parsnip and add to pot
One cup of chopped parsley leaves and adds to pot
Add cup of frozen peas
Bring to boil then turn down to simmer for 1.5 hours.

Take two large bowls daily.

The other half of chicken can be used for a number of dishes or made into chicken salad.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Is it true that in the ’70’s the vaccine for the swine flu actually killed/injured more people than the disease itself?

Posted by Marty | Report as abusive

Toddlers in Mexico get this flu and survive. A toddler in the US gets the flu and dies. Maybe the difference is how the US medical system treats the flu?? I don’t know how the US toddler was treated, but maybe it’s better to not give too much Tylenol and allow the fever to run its course. Fever has been shown to have a protective effect.

Posted by marisa | Report as abusive

I’m sorry, but this is just lame. You fulminate about statistics but obviously lack medical insight. There is just no way you can stop this pandemic if it will turn out to be a pandemic flu strain. The 1918 era should have given you that insight. You are right about one thing; we simply have no clue how to estimate the odds of this becoming a pandemic. Somehow this bears resemblance to the financial crisis we are in. Estimating odds or chances is more difficult than a statistician will admit, please be brave enough to admit that and choose your words more carefully in the future, please. Hopefully this will just blow over, but maybe it will not and if not – this might be a show stopper …

Posted by DJ | Report as abusive

This is blown way out of proportion, this happened in 1976 while an American economy was attempting to recover from gas crises. In 1976, 200 million inoculations were purchased by the US government for a swine flu which never came to fruition, the result? Millions of dollars of revenue gained by Big-Pharm to arm us for a battle that never was. Panic leads to confusion, and when you have a bunch of confused, scared people, the one who screams the loudest is touted as a savior.

” http://www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/12/10/flu .history/ “

Posted by Albert | Report as abusive

OK, One question here: Who the heck is Eric Auchard? A virologist? An epidemiologist? A statistician? A commentator?

Sorry, sir, but all you seem to be doing is trotting out a bunch of statistics without any context–I guess sometimes you become what you ridicule, eh?

The fact is, we *don’t* know where we will be with this issue in a week, a month, a year. Yes, there is some hype out there. But this “don’t worry, be happy” BS is every bit as irresponsible, if not more so. To state that “… modern communications and medicine can arm us to respond quickly as the disease evolves” is, pardon the pun, hogwash. Medical systems worldwide (big example being right here in the United States) are pushed to the limit as is; it would take months to get a vaccine developed in meaningful numbers, and ramping up the production of antivirals will take a long time as well.

Yeah, they might all be wrong and I sure hope they are. But, thank you very much, I prefer to get my info from sources like the U.S. CDC and the WHO–who incidentally upped their pandemic alert level about a half hour ago–than from some self-appointed gatekeeper and guardian of the public trust such as Eric Auchard, whoever he may be.

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

No problem. Let the boarders be wide open and let’s fear monger some more:

“American officials reported the first swine flu fatality outside Mexico today,…. although it later emerged that the 23-month-old baby girl who died in Texas was a Mexican who had been taken to the United States for treatment”.
This is a good time to dampen the fear by handing out ineffetctive face masks.

Posted by Werner Strasser | Report as abusive

This was an imminent pandemic a week ago. I do not understand, being a medical professional myself, why they are not advising the use of N95 masks with air tight goggles along with the ‘mom’s good advice of wash your hands”. Well, I have an idea. We don’t have enough medical grade masks. We don’t have enough Tamiflu. After giving out Tamiflu to the medical people who need and deserve it, how many doses will be left for the public. We are poorly prepared for this, and I think that the CDC and WHO feels this will run its course. They cannot predict the damage, but as the writer says, if it is 7% that is huge! We do not have enough respirators for the severely ill. An ounce of prevention, using N95 masks, which, BTW are very hard to get now, and goggles, with relative social isolation, and hand washing is good. N95 masks can be made to last longer by putting useless surgical masks over them. Keep in mind N95masks, are called ‘respirators’, and yes, they will help. Putting a surgical mask over your N95 will extend the use of your N95 if you can still get one. People, people, don’t be too cool to wear a mask! And, unfortunately don’t rely on your government to hand you an N95! They are not giving out the useless surgical masks that Mexico gave out in an act of desperation. I do not expect 7% mortality, however even 3% is high. Seasonal flu kills many, most of them octogenarians or the already very ill. H1N1-this avian-swine-human mutation is dangerous. Seldom in history have populations exposed to a never before seen organism faired well, look at measles, and small pox in the Native Americans. It decimated them. 1918 was brutal. Americans should know by now, we are not the ‘golden child’ we may have seen ourselves as. This disease can spread 7 days prior to the victim knowing they are ill and 7 days while they are ill. If you want to go thru this just exposing yourself and your kids and simply washing your hands, before you heed that advice, ask the physician or official telling you that, how many packs of Tamiflu and N95 or higher rated masks they have at home.

Posted by inga nils | Report as abusive

I find it hilarious when people use as an argument that ‘health officials have been saying that a pandemic is inevitable’… Does that mean because someone dies 4000kms away that I should just accept that my fate is to roll over and die from a runny nose? And forgive me, but I’ve been to Mexico City – it is easily the most polluted and disgusting slum in the world so the term ‘otherwise healthy adults’ in that berg doesn’t mean the same thing to me as that statement regarding someone from Vancouver or Geneva.

I’d also like to say this: 5 years ago no one had ever heard the word pandemic, much like 2 years ago no one had a clue what a sub-prime mortgage was. The media in America is essentially gov’t controlled, and all this crap being spewed is propoganda to keep the public afraid. Just like Islamic terrorism in America – two attacks in 10 years and you’re all so anxious and panicked that you’ve given away your human rights and those of visitors to your country. In the Middle East and Afghan there are attacks EVERY DAY! and I’d argue they have more day-to-day freedoms than Americans now (well, not in Afghan – that place is an unthinkable disaster.)

Don’t buy the hype – just wash your bloody hands and throw away used tissue instead of stuffing it back in your pockets. And hey, try to exercise a bit too and not eat grease burgers.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

To marisa

The toddler that died in Texas was from Mexico. Just an FYI.

Posted by Thorp | Report as abusive

“two attacks in 10 years and you’re all so anxious and panicked that you’ve given away your human rights and those of visitors to your country” – Might be true about human rights but you can jump off a bridge if you think 3000 dead because of some nut job is small. Personally you should have been here to watch what happened. And yes people are over reacting to the flu, but not much you can do when the world is run based on emotion. Honestly its just hard to tell what can happen after a week.

Posted by Mateusz | Report as abusive

im just so angry that mexico didnt or couldnt do anything sooner to stop those sick pigs spreading there flu.

Posted by birsen smith | Report as abusive

Common sense needs to prevail here. Statistically and historically speaking, a minimal number of people have died from this flu virus but this doesn’t stop the whole world going into panic mode. Wouldn’t it be great if the WHO and global governments put as much effort into stamping out HIV AIDS and all the other ills of this world, like famine, malaria, TB and deaths from internecine strife – just for starters?

Posted by Lucretia Scott | Report as abusive

Is birsen smith for real?

Marty, yes it is true! do I think it would be wise to line up for a flu shot if they come out with one for this flu strain? No, as long as you are a healthy individual. If you are one of those at risk then if I was you I would be camped out to get a good spot in that line.

This is the flu folks. The flu kills people every year. This may be a little more nasty strain but, if you are a health individual you should not have to worry.

Richard is correct. Stay healthy by exersice and eating right. Wash your hands and stay away from sick people. If you get it, I mentioned a few tips for helping make it through the illness. If you are one of those at risk then you need to think about anti-virials and aggressive medical care.

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

Hi Eric,
There are lies there big lies and there is statistic.

You do statistic wrong! Check your initial data :).

According to fluefacts.com
in US alone 25,000,000-50,000,000 with 36,000 deaths. That give ~0.1% mortality rate.

While you report:
“WHO estimates flu kills upward of 250,000 to 500,000 people year after year. “Normal” flu epidemics infect 3 to 5 million a year.”

That gives us 10% mortality rate! Worse than SARS 8300 cases and 750 deaths 9.5% rate.

Posted by SKV | Report as abusive

Hi Eric,
There are lies, there are big lies and there is statistic.

You do statistic wrong :).

That looks especially nice given that you title:
“A vaccine needed for bad statistics” !!!

Check your initial data :). Most likely you mistaken number of flu related hospitalizations with total flu case count.

According to fluefacts.com
in US alone 25,000,000-50,000,000 cases with 36,000 deaths. That give ~0.1% mortality rate.

While you report:
“WHO estimates flu kills upward of 250,000 to 500,000 people year after year. “Normal” flu epidemics infect 3 to 5 million a year.”
That gives us 10% mortality rate! Worse than SARS 8300 cases and 750 deaths 9.5% rate.

Posted by SKV | Report as abusive

” Maybe the difference is how the US medical system treats the flu??”

No… the toddler was from Mexico and was coming to the US to be treated.

Posted by Ster | Report as abusive

Be careful with the 170+ deaths figure. The WHO says only 9 deaths are confirmed.

Posted by ster | Report as abusive

[…] A vaccine needed for bad statistics […]

Posted by Info and Links on Swine Flu « MNTornado’s World | Report as abusive

[…] You know, it’s kind of easy to get freaked out about a possibly approaching tidal wave of global fatalities when every day brings so much news about the “swine flu pandemic”. While that does seem to be frighteningly real possibility, I liked this: While the infected need access to medical care and anti-viral drugs, the rest of the world needs an inoculation against scary statistics and misinformation. [A Vaccine Needed for Bad Statistics] […]

Posted by Pandem-onium | monstropolitan | Report as abusive


The posting is good and the points made valid. However, in a posting about incorrect use of statistics, it would have helped if the stats provided were correct.

The 1918 “Spanish Flu” outbreak had a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) estimated to be 2.5%-5.0%. That means that 2.5%-5.0% OF THOSE INFECTED died. A very different thing than 2.5% of the global population dying.

Posted by Zanuck | Report as abusive

I’m an RN in the Central Texas area, an agency traveling nurse working in many area emergency rooms and reading a host of information from CDC, WHO, and popular media. Two things are clear, hype Sells and improves ratings, and people panic. Remember avian flu? Weren’t we all supposed to die? Disappeared, as does all other media related panic…unless or until I hear it directly from a truly reliable source, common sense rules. Hand washing and remain calm. Unfortunately, panic will rule the day because as they say “there is NO CURE for stupid”. Next year we will be asking each other whatever happened to swine flu. Please just exercise common sense and turn your bs filters on in regard to media hype in print or on tv. Because the medical community is literally on the “front lines” we generally receive pertinent information before it is released to the media. A LOT of creativity exists between our information and what you hear or read. I agree that a vaccine is for bad statistics and irresponsible media.

Posted by Shona | Report as abusive

Eric, I think you are trivialising the risk from Swine Flu (H1N1). Your article mentions the Spanish Flu (also H1N1) killing more than 50 million people in 1918. What you fail to mention is the mortality rate from the Spanish Flu also started slow, just like the 2009 Swine Flu (H1N1) & it was the deadly second wave of the virus that hit in the Fall/Winter that killed most people.

You need to read Flu Safe – Surviving the Pandemic by Dr. Wayman (www.flusafe.org).

Some mathematical models are suggesting the POSSIBILITY of more than 100 million people will die from Swine Flu 2009. That is why Dr. Margaret Chan, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO), is saying “all of humanity is under threat”.

Posted by Adam Lark | Report as abusive

This isn’t about saving lives – this is about economics.

What a better way for Governments to deflect attention from the GFC than to create something even more scary to think about – in doing so our perspective is changed and we become grateful for what we have got not what we might get!.

“I thought I was poor because I had no shoes, and then I met a man who had no feet”

Posted by Realist | Report as abusive

Not many statisticians are currently getting worked up and hysterical about the swine flu. It’s people in other professions and the media, like the columnist below.

But it’s typically the statisticians who get blamed.

Posted by Frazier | Report as abusive

[…] fr&#959m: A vaccine needed f&#959r t&#1077rr&#1110b&#406&#1077 statistics | Analysis & Opinion | Share It: Hide […]

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