Michael Fumento delivers some much-needed sober analysis of the swine flu:
There’s panic in the streets over a flu outbreak. “Projections are that this virus will kill 1 million Americans,” the nation’s top health official has warned.
The virus is swine flu. But the date is 1976. And the projection, it turns out, is off by 999,999 deaths. Direct ones, that is. The hastily developed vaccine killed or crippled hundreds. Sadly, the current hysteria outbreak threatens devastation on a worldwide scale.
A calm perspective of the current outbreak of the virus now known as influenza A (H1N1) would compare it to seasonal flu. According to the CDC, the seasonal flu infects between 15 to 60 million Americans each year (5% to 20%), hospitalizes about 200,000 and kills about 36,000. That comes out to over 800 hospitalizations and over 250 deaths each day during flu season.
And then he systematically refutes many of the claims of the panic salesmen:
No, influenza A (H1N1) doesn’t threaten to become “another Spanish Flu of 1918-19,” as pig flu panic purveyors claim. Nothing does. Check your calendar; that was 90 years ago. We’re not hobbled by a world war, and since then, we’ve developed things called “antibiotics,” as well as antivirals, pneumonia vaccines and other medical tools. In all flu outbreaks, including the Spanish one, the vast majority of deaths come from secondary bacterial infections.
Not incidentally, one of the “worrisome” similarities between Spanish flu and swine flu is that both strains are of the H1N1 subtype. But — ahem! — So is one of the major subtypes of the latest seasonal flu.
Another panic prompter is that so far influenza A (H1N1) appears to disproportionately affect younger people. Assuming this holds up, one explanation would be that older persons have received some immunity from previous exposure to a similar strain. Cause for alarm? In any case, the stronger immune systems of younger people could explain the apparent mildness of symptoms outside of Mexico.
It’s indeed true we have no vaccine for this flu. But two years ago, it turned out that the seasonal flu shot was ineffective against the primary strain and one of the two secondary strains. There was no appreciable increase in cases or deaths. That said, it would be insurance to make swine flu one of the three strains in this fall’s seasonal flu vaccine.
The whole thing is worth reading.