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Monday, September 7, 2009

Are the H1N1 Death Numbers Low?

The Number of Deaths Due to H1N1 Compared to the Number of Deaths Due to Seasonal Flu.

I keep hearing about how the numbers of deaths from H1N1 are really quite low worldwide. In one respect, this is true, and I hope that it stays that way. Here is a CBC article from Sept 4 2009.

If you read discussion forums or the comments section on some news websites, many people use the currently low death ratio to argue that the H1N1 pandemic declared by WHO is a non-event, and that we are spending way too much time and energy on it. There are even conspiracy theories regarding vaccination programs.

So here are some raw numbers:
About 36,000 deaths per year on average due to seasonal flu in the USA alone.
2,837 worldwide from H1N1 flu since the pandemic began.

From these numbers, it seems like the H1N1 pandemic is very small compared to the seasonal flu epidemics. These numbers are deceiving though. First of all you have to look at how the numbers are counted. The H1N1 fatalities are all confirmed, reported H1N1 cases. The 36,000 annual US death number for seasonal flu is based on a statistical method. If only confirmed, reported seasonal flu deaths were counted, the seasonal flu number would be about 2,000. That is not to say that the 36,000 figure is incorrect, it is just that very few death certificates actually list flu as the cause of death. They usually list a complicating factor such as pneumonia or heart failure.

Another thing to consider is that deaths from seasonal flu are more common among the elderly and persons with chronic conditions that compromise their immune systems. The H1N1 virus as well, is more likely to cause death if the infected person also has some other compromising medical condition, but it is not age specific in favoring the elderly. In fact it has more of a bias to causing severe disease in younger persons.

Another thing to consider is that as the time of year that flu typically increases in the northern hemisphere approaches; the incidence of all types of flu is expected to rise dramatically.

Here is an article from Slate magazine about this

Here is an article from JAMA that you can download

And, one more thing...

The Pandemic Ventilator Project has been referenced in a book by Tom Atlee. This book has contributions by many people that are very knowledgeable in the field of sharing intelligence to improve the world.

It is called Collective Intelligence: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace

It is available at Amazon in hardcover here.

It is appropriately published under Creative Commons, same as this blog.

If you want to see it in PDF format you can get it here.

This is the section that has the Pandemic Ventilator Project Reference in it (page 457)
. It is written by Mark Tovey.

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