I remember about 2 years ago I took a flight when the media first started hooking onto Swine Flu, and already at this stage I noticed a fair amount of people wearing masks, to protect themselves from infection. Back then I had my reservations, and recently we’ve been getting bombarded by the Media about the threat of this new deadly strain of flu (H1N1) and how we should all get vaccinated.
So I decided I would do some research because next week the country I live in Czech Republic will begin vaccinations. For starters 10% of the general population of Czech will receive a vaccine.
In my studies which really didn’t take long – I’ve realized there are 2 ways to consider H1N1.
- What the media are telling you
- What the statistics are telling you
I prefer to go with the statistics.
If you ask the average person – “Do you feel in danger of dying of the flu?”and yes I mean the normal kind – most people would laugh at you, and say “No the chances of me dying of the flu are rare, and there are plenty of ways to treat flu, should I get sick.”
But if you ask the same person who actively watches the news – “Are you afraid of contracting the Swine Flu H1N1 strain, most people will tell you “Sure its deadly, and I’m afraid of it, I don’t want to use public transport, and I’m worried I might catch it from someone at work or while out shopping.”
Lets just for a minute here look at who exactly is dying of what? For statistics I will use the US, because the US is an easy country to find information about.
source : An estimated 100,000 hospitalizations and about 20,000 deaths occur each year from the flu or its complications. (http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/f/flu/deaths.htm)
Each flu season is unique, but it is estimated that, on average, approximately 5% to 20% of U.S. residents get the flu, and more than 200,000 persons are hospitalized for flu-related complications each year. About 36,000 Americans die on average per year from the complications of flu.(http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/disease.htm)
H1N1 Deaths Reach Over 1,000 in U.S. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,569392,00.html)
Nearly 5,000 people have reportedly died from swine flu since it emerged this year and developed into a global epidemic (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/10/23/health/main5413623.shtml)
Now wait, hang on a second…. surely an epidemic means that H1N1 is actually killing more people than regular flu? Surely it means its taking over, and surely it means that if you get it you’re likely to die?
Well lets look at another quote :
“Many millions” of Americans have had swine flu so far, according to an estimate he gave at a Friday press conference. The government doesn’t test everyone to confirm swine flu so it doesn’t have an exact count. (http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,569392,00.html)
Something smells funny, and its not the swines!
European scientists and health authorities are facing angry questions about why H1N1 flu has not caused death and destruction on the scale first feared, and they need to respond deftly to ensure public support.
Accusations are flying in British and French media that the pandemic has been “hyped” by medical researchers to further their own cause, boost research grants and line the pockets of drug companies.
Britain’s Independent newspaper this week asked “Pandemic? What Pandemic?” (http://www.foodconsumer.org/newsite/Non-food/Disease/major_victory_with_swine_flu_scandal_191120090720.html)
These are just a few things I’ve found in my research. I think one thing people always tend to lack is perspective, especially when all you ever hear when you turn on the news is more reports about Swine flu deaths, but the perception is misleading.
If every smoking related death where reported worldwide we would have Around 5.4 million deaths a year worldwide.
How many people have died from H1N1 worldwide – nearly 5000
Drinking : 2 million a year vs H1N1 5000
Car accidents : 1.2 million a year
Child birth complications: More than 2 million babies and mothers die worldwide each year from childbirth complications.
Yes – people still drink, people still smoke, and you can still buy these products at nearly every shop in every country on this planet. Mothers still have birth, and people are born, however its worth noting at time of writing you are 400 times more likely to die at birth than dying from H1N1.
Think about that next time you shudder in fear from media panic.