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Some Perspective On the H1N1 Virus

Bookworm puts the number of deaths the administration is projecting from the H1N1 virus into perspective:

Given Obama's manifest motives, the numbers may or may not be true. We know he predicts budget numbers down when it suits him, and it's unclear whether he'll predict viral numbers up (to scare people) or down (to hide problems on his watch). Once a guy has established himself as dishonest, you always know he's lying, even if you don't know precisely what direction that lie is taking.

But even the number is dead on accurate, here's something to think about: In a normal year, more than 30,000 Americans die of the flu, out of a population of more than 300,000,000 people. If Obama's H1N1 numbers are correct, the projected deaths will have a (sadly) negative effect on a mere .0003 of the total American population. Just to put that in context, the Spanish Influenza in 1918 killed about 675,000 Americans, and this happened when the population was only around 100,000,000. Even that nightmarish period killed only .006 of the population. To give even more context, the Black Death in 1348 killed between a half to a third of Europe's population, depending on which country you're examining.


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Comments (12)

Funny, H1N1 is no more viru... (Below threshold)

Funny, H1N1 is no more virulent than the common flu. Better revamp the health care system, I guess.

/sarc off

In 1348 the Black Death onl... (Below threshold)

In 1348 the Black Death only killed off about 1/2 of Europe. Just think, if they had had the benefits of big pharma and forced inoculations, the number might of been even higher!!

EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! SWI... (Below threshold)

EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY! SWINE FLU! WEST NILE VIRUS! Those damned Republicans always using FEAR to control people. Democrats would never do that. They got "ethics".

The issue with the swine fl... (Below threshold)
N Ash:

The issue with the swine flu is not mass death. Rather it is due to the ease with which it infects even healthy young adults who normally are not affected by the flu. So in addition to the elderly and very young, it also infects a large number of young healthy adults. Also, it is somewhat more contagious than the typical flu. On the plus side, it is not as deadly to most of those who catch it. Some have a major reaction and die, but this occurs with every flu.

What worry the epidemiologists is that only two or three specific mutations need to occur to turn this very deadly. It is rather the opposite of the bird flu in SE Asia they priorly worried about (actually, still do). That virus is very deadly but not very contagious. Should either it become much more contagious or the current swine flu much more deadly, the situation could rapidly (due to modern transportation) become worse than the Spanish flu of the early 20th century.

Right now much of the hype is based on mere worry; hopefully it will stay that way.

Two points:1) the ... (Below threshold)

Two points:

1) the 1918 flu epidemic was far worse in the Old World than it was here. Estimates vary widely, but a CDC paper on the subject says it infected between 1/4 and 1/3 of the world's population, and roughly 10% of those who got it died from it.

2) the world of 2009 faces a threat that the world of 1918 did not: the risk of societal collapse because so many people are sick that there aren't enough healthy people to keep the infrastructure running. Suppose that we see the same 1/3 infection rate, and half of those (1/6th, or about 17%) lose time from work. Picture a world in which one out of every six people is too sick to work. Not just the useless bureaucrats and such, but the people who really do things. Truck drivers. Train engineers. Aircraft pilots. Doctors and nurses. Police, firefighters, and other emergency responders. The people who keep the Internet running. Even the "unskilled workers" who restock your supermarket every night. It's said that most cities are at most four or five days away from running out of food. A 1918-class flu pandemic would probably put that saying to the test, and I don't think any of us would like watching the result.

I think one can safely say that Bookworm's analysis is simplistic to the point of stupidity.

Historically the reason peo... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Historically the reason people died from the flu was not from the virus itself but from secondary bacterial infections that it made people susceptible to. Bacterial pneumonia was what the fatalities were from. Secondarily people suffered from the dehydration that came with the flu.

Today with antibiotics and IV therapy there simply isn't the same risk that there was 100 years ago.

Flu epidemic alarmists usually leave out these important facts. It's unlikely that the flu would ever have the same effect world wide hat it once did.

1 out of every 6 might be t... (Below threshold)
jim m:

1 out of every 6 might be too sick to work but that wouldn't happen at the same time everywhere. Yes, people being sick would create a problem, but it is more likely to be an inconvenience more than anything else.

Even in the US we saw that the general severity of the swine flu was much less than in Mexico and that is generally ascribed to the over all higher level of health in the population.

Scientists have also shown that bird flu is highly unlikely ever to be a threat to humans due to its lacking certain genetic features that would enable it to infect humans and that no amount of mutation is going to change that.

Calling it H1N1 is a misnom... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Calling it H1N1 is a misnomer because there are many other strains of H1N1, including the 1918 Spanish flu. Calling it novel H1N1 is just as much a misnomer because every new strain is novel. Same for calling it the Swine flu as there and many types of Swine flu that are subtype H1N2, H3N1, H3N2, and H2N3.

In respect to the naming convention that's been in place for nearly a hundred years and which has bought us names like Spanish flu, Asian flu, Hong Kong flu, Russian flu, Wisconsin flu, and Fuji flu, this new flu should be called Mexican flu, and in fact that's what it's called in other parts of the world such as Thailand and Israel.

Ultimately, the Mexican flu will become just another of the many strains that float around without causing much concern beyond any other known human to human transmittable flu. The over reaction to Mexican flu serves a useful purpose in preparing us for when a truly dangerous new strain pops up.

The odds that the Mexican flu will mutate into some deadlier form are extremely remote. Its funny that those who profess evolution the loudest seem to understand it the least. The survival of a given flu strain is a race between variations to infect as many hosts as quickly as possible. The more virulent a variations is the slower it spreads, particularly among humans as our species is aware of the virus and able to take precautions. It's the least virulent variations that spread the fastest and leave immunized hosts in their wake, which then drive more virulent variations into extinction. If the evolutionary advantage was the other way around then every existing flu strain would become more and more virulent until all the hosts were extinct.

The purpose of evolution is not to create new species, but to maintain healthy ecosystems, and that explains why ecosystems are so finely tuned, and thus, easily upset by modern human activity.

Who cares what it's called ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Who cares what it's called as long as it it clear what we are talking about. I will persist in calling it swine flu as that is what originally it was referred o as and the only reason people stopped (in particular the White House) was that they were afraid of intolerant islamofascist reaction.

Who cares what it'... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
Who cares what it's called as long as it it clear what we are talking about.

That's my point. Calling it H1N1, Novel H1N1, or swine flu fail in that they don't distinguish this new flu from the last H1N1, the next H1N1, or the many other swine flu strains that exist. The only reason it wasn't called Mexican flu was liberals thought it would offend Mexico. The normal naming nomenclature uses the geographic origin as the second most significant element of the name, so in keeping with that nomenclature it's the Mexican flu.

Let's just hope the deaths ... (Below threshold)
Larry Dickman:

Let's just hope the deaths are limited to Republicans and other Creationists who don't believe that the flu can evolve into a new strain.

I wouldn't allow anyone to get a flu shot unless they signed a statement acknowledging that evolution is a fact.

For you Creationists slow on the uptake . . . . have you ever wondered why you have to keep getting flu shots?

For you Creationis... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:
For you Creationists slow on the uptake . . . . have you ever wondered why you have to keep getting flu shots?

And for you evolutionists extra slow on the uptake... have you ever wondered why it's still flu even if it's a different strain. Evolution allows species to adapt to new conditions, not become other species. In fact, nothing beyond adoption within a species has ever been observed. Try getting your facts right.






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