Thursday, September 3, 2009
The official estimate of the number of Britons who could die this winter from swine flu is to be reduced substantially to roughly 20,000 because health experts have decided the virus is far less lethal than first feared.
Ministers and health officials predicted in July that up to 65,000 people could be killed across the UK by the H1N1 virus, as infection rates accelerated over the summer and deaths began to mount.
But the Scottish health secretary, Nicola Sturgeon, said this morning that that official worst case scenario had been revised downwards, with experts now predicting a death rate of 0.1%, much lower than the initial estimate of 0.35%.
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Swine flu infections have continued over the summer and at least 66 people have died. Ministers still believe the number of cases will rise steeply this winter, causing a full-blown epidemic and putting public services and businesses under severe strain.
The new estimate is expected to be confirmed by Sir Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England and Wales, this afternoon.
This article was posted: Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 9:02 am