A discussion I had recently with some family and friends about the Flu and the Flu Shot along with Swine Flu prompted me to do a little bit of research. I learned a few things that might be common knowledge to others, but I had no idea so I thought I’d share.
The biggest shock to me was that H1N1 has no direct correlation to the so called Swine Flu. H1N1 is just a sub type of Influenza named Influenza A (H1N1). H1N1 is the most common form of the Flu and in fact the Flu Vaccine usually contains a variation of H1N1 and a variation of H3N2 as well as a B type virus.
Mainstream Media Fail.
The World Health Organization keeps track of all sorts of information regarding outbreaks and diseases and the Swine Flu is no exception. They’ve been tracking it from the beginning and have a ton of data on the spread and what climates it’s most active in.
I’ve heard the media claim this is going to be horrible and it will kill tons of people etc etc. I’ve also heard others mention it’s fatality rate is no worse than a typical Flu virus. Unfortunately everywhere I look I get different numbers on what a typical Flu Virus fatality rate is. Usually it’s somewhere in the ball park of .5% to 1% so we’ll use .75% as a baseline.
Everything I read said the fatality rate will likely rise over time. Through my analysis of the WHO numbers I found this to be true, to a point.
What became quite apparent is there may be a plateau. That is, the system might be flooded with enough people now that we may have reached the point at which the system always contains a constant percentage of the number of people who are sick, and therefor a relatively constant percentage of those will be fatalities. The Good thing is that constant seems to be somewhere around only 1.2%.
This number is roughly 60% larger than our assumed baseline standard seasonal flu fatality rate of .75%. What does this mean?
Well, figuring 10,000 people are infected with the Swine flu and 10,000 people are affected with a standard seasonal flu. Keep in mind though, that this IS a variation of the standard seasonal flu. Of those infected with Swine Flu approximately 120 people would die. Of those affected with the seasonal flu approximately 75 would die. A difference of 45 people or only .45% of the population.
Simply put, the Swine Flu is only .45% more riskier than the Standard Seasonal Flu. Still Worried?
ALL of the information I used can be obtained on the World Health Organization website which has a detailed archive of the Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009
What I DID find extremely interesting and alarming is that the Rate in the Americas (The United States is located within the Americas) is much higher. Over 2.2%, essentially doubling the rate of the rest of the world. Assuming our baseline is accurate that puts the risk for Americans at somewhere like 1.5% more than the standard seasonal flu.
Perhaps this is a good time for the health care discussion? Just saying…
I’ve made it public so you can look at the Healthcare and Flu Statistics spreadsheet I used to make these (and a few other) charts.