This forum is about wrong numbers in science, politics and the media. It respects good science and good English.
I suspect everyone here has heard about the Swine flu sweeping the Americas.
At the risk of sounding crass, I am going to make a prediction that no one will die who catches the disease here in the states.
So far there is 1 death of a child who was visiting from mexico.
Apparently we are at a level 5 alert. Level 6 will occur when more than one region is affected (apparently just the norhern americas are involved right now). Which is apparently the definition of "pandemic".
Are the other flu variants in perpetual pandamonia?
Of course this is being reported by the same crew that will spend an hour discussing the 1/100th of an inch of snow that has fallen in the last 24 hours.
They have fortunately qualified their story and are asserting that there is no reason to panic, YET.
Isn't it nice that there is nothing more serious going on in the world?
I was wondering when "Swine" flu would appear on the board!
There have been several reported cases outside the Americas - here, in Scotland, we've had 2 people (on the way to recovery just now) and a few more recorded UK wide. On the basis of 8/55,000,000 we are now entering panic mode in the UK ! Whilst I agree we should be aware of what it is and how to deal with it I also think we're going to see the usual massive media hype and predictions of millions dying (remember "bird flu" - we had one bird die in Scotland in that "scare").
Suggest we rename it "media flu" or "WHO flu" (World Health Organisation).
It'll be even worse if it coincides with the news "doldrums" in mid summer. Luckily it's diluted at the moment with all the "100 days in office" items about your good president just now.
It's at times like this that I wish it had been myself who was the crony of Tony who had set up a pharmaceutical supply house.....
.... the other necessary ingredient is the ability to spark of a media stoked frenzy, though I suspect any fool can start the media of on a scaremongering exercise.
On the plus side, my thanks to Thomsons for flying all those panic struck tourists back from Mexico as it allowed me to suggest a far more modest holiday and not end up in the dog house.
Swine Flu= head line news.
This future is not reported!!
Islam, the fastest growing population in the world!!!
Don't see what this "muslim" link has to do with Swine Flu?
Off topic ?
In addition Islam is a religion not the name of the people.
Rumour has it that swine flu has hybridized with bird flu. Watch out for infected flying pigs! Citizens are advised to wear a broad-brimmed hat at all times.
I would have thought it's a bit dangerous to predict that absolutely no-one is going to die of it in the US; after all, ordinary flu has a death-rate which is to be highly respected. That isn't to say that the rest of your post isn't correct though.
junkfoodscience.blogspot.com had an interesting statistic that wasn't reported other places.
During the same period that those 91 cases in the US occurred, some 20,000 regular flu cases occurred along with 55 deaths of young children.
My prediction of no deaths is a direct corollary. Unless the swine flu becomes more virulent and more deadly, the real story is that FLU can be deadly, the swine flu may actually be less deadly than the day to day one.
I was going out on a limb though. Can't look like much of a prognosticator if you don't make a prediction though.
The Seattle area now claims at least 11 cases of the swine flu. Schools are closing. One little sidebar comment interests me. These cases aren't "official" until they get the report back from the CDC. That won't be for another 48 hours. Meanwhile, let's panic the public.
Well, this current epidemic has all the hallmarks of a potential nasty pandemic - recently transferred from animals, now transferring from person-to-person (which we didn't see with the last animal flu scare), subtype with low general population resistance due to lack of exposure, and a very very high death rate by comparison with the ~1% we expect from most influenza epidemics.
It's highly sensible to be alert, it's sensible to take some measures to retard its spread through the global population (because this buys time with which to develop a vaccine), even though the probability of this particular one being the next multi-million-killing pandemic is low. One of these days, one of these influenzae will get us. I'd rather exercise some level of caution than none.
While I don't mind a little alertness, I am still humored by the level of reporting. Once again, fully half the morning broadcast has been filled with stories about swine flu. Yes, many of them have been about how the outbreak hasn't been overwhelming. They are trying to open up schools early.
The problem for the media is that they get caught up in their own positive feedback loops.
Ok, some people have now died here in the US. They have been explicit in pointing out that the reason they died was because of other factors involved (CHF and other illnesses), and they augment the stories with people making sensible statements, but they are still covering the story with used car salesman like vigor.
My initial assessment of "no deaths" was a little extreme, but the fundamental message I was trying to get across still holds. Flu is dangerous. This particular flu doesn't appear to be more dangerous than the regular flu.
Based on the stats so far, this strain is less harmful than the multitude of other influenza strains that have come and gone in the past. Now remind me again what is the current population of the earth? Circa 6 billion? How many of the earth's population are infected by potentially deadly diseases at any one time? How many people are killed by malaria every day?
It never ceases to amaze me how these scares are allowed to develop to the point of mass hysteria and I've read Christopher Booker and Richard North's book 'Scared to Death' cover to cover so I understand the 'seven basic attributes' of a good scare. This latest 'scare them to death' episode is sadly consistent with the second paragraph of the Introduction to this great book '...passive smoking; asbestos; SARS; Asian bird flu - the list is seemingly endless'. How right they are!
“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
"The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”