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Officials: Swine flu reports may be overblown

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Kim Archer
Tulsa World
Saturday, August 29, 2009

U.S. health officials are taking the spread of the new swine flu seriously, but they don’t expect up to half the nation to be infected or up to 90,000 deaths — statistics that were reported by much of the nation’s media earlier this week.

“Certainly everything we’ve seen in the U.S. and everything we’ve seen around the world to date suggests that we won’t see that kind of number — if the virus doesn’t change,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, during a taping of C-SPAN’s Newsmakers program to air Sunday.

A council of independent science advisors wrote a report for the president about U.S. preparations for the swine flu, which the White House released Monday. Many in the media took a “plausible scenario” used for planning purposes and highlighted it, he said.

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In the scenario, the report stated that an epidemic could infect up to half the nation’s population this fall and winter, hospitalize as many as 1.8 million Americans and kill up to 90,000 people.

Still, the 15-page report emphasized the numbers were a “planning scenario, not a prediction.”

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“The report, I think, or unfortunately the media coverage of it wasn’t nearly as balanced as the report itself,” Frieden said.

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This article was posted: Saturday, August 29, 2009 at 8:30 am





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