Friday, May 1, 2009

Swine Flu Skepticism

Are we on the verge of a pandemic?

Everyone is talking about swine flu. Will it turn into something much, much worse? Maybe, but right now I am on the side of the skeptics. My reason is simple enough. The first confirmed case was a month ago. Since then there have been 367 reported cases, and 10 deaths. But Canada averages 4,000 influenza deaths a year, with 20,000 hospitalizations.

That means, in the time since the first swine flu victim there have probably been 1,667 hospitalizations and 333 flu related deaths in Canada (the annual number of hospitalizations and deaths divided by 12).

That's normal flu cases in a country with an educated population of more than 30 million and an advanced health care system. Under normal circumstances you can expect 33 times as many deaths and almost four times as many hospitalizations as there have been suspected and confirmed cases of swine flu world wide.

So why all the fear?

UPDATE: The numbers are up and down. More cases have been confirmed, but the spread is much less than projected.

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