Wednesday, Sept 2, 2009
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology issued an alarming report on swine flu last week. A typical front-page article about it began, “Swine flu could infect half the U.S. population this fall and winter, hospitalizing up to 1.8 million people and causing as many as 90,000 deaths.”
But the council’s “plausible scenario” involving those alarming figures is based on three main assumptions, and all three are highly suspect.
First, the report says that “based on past pandemics,” a sharp increase in infections “is likely … starting in September and peaking in October.” That’s important, because the first shipments of vaccine aren’t expected until mid-October.
The problem is that swine flu isn’t comparable to those past pandemics. As I wrote in June, it’s only called a pandemic because the World Health Organization changed its definition of the term so that “enormous numbers of deaths and illness” are no longer required.
This article was posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2009 at 12:13 pm