Today’s “facts” from the World Health Organization provide perspective:
Today WHO reported that 11 countries have “officially reported 257 cases of influenza A (H1N1) infection.” In the U.S., we have 109 laboratory-confirmed human cases and one death. In Mexico, there are 97 confirmed human cases and seven deaths.
Moreover, the specter of the 1918-1919 pandemic doesn’t seem likely today, based on WHO’s most “conservative” (ie, worst-case) scenario:
However, even WHO doesn’t anticipate another epidemic like we had in 1918: “Current epidemiological models project that a pandemic could result in 2 to 7.4 million deaths globally.”
Let’s put these numbers in context. In 1918, the world population was about 1.8 billion. That means that the H1N1 virus swine flu killed about 3 percent of the world’s population. According to the U.S. archives, more than 25 percent of the U.S. population experienced the flu, however.
Today, the world population is approximately 6.7 billion. Taking the worst-case WHO estimate, as much as 0.1 percent of the world’s population is at risk of death if this flu indeed becomes a pandemic. In other words, it still sounds to me like the risk is small.
And that $1.5 billion President Obama wants for a vaccine? Not likely to be much help.
The swine flu media focus seems to be a variation of “if it bleeds it leads” at the moment.