News / Africa

H1N1 Reality Far Lower than Expectations, says British Medical Journal

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

The British Medical Journal is taking a hard look at H1N1, examining why the flu strain did not become the huge epidemic that many feared it would.
   
The World Health Organization says the latest estimate indicates 13,000 people around the world have died from H1N1.  It says it expects that number to be much larger when the final estimate is released in the coming months.  In comparison, the seasonal flu kills about 36,000 people each year in the United States.
   
BMJ deputy editor Tony Delamothe says, “I think you’re right to say everybody was concerned about the potential for H1N1, but from the vantage point of early January 2010, at least in the U.K., it doesn’t look as if it’s any worse than an average bout of flu,’ he says.
   
He says after a spike of H1N1 cases in mid-2009 in Britain, reports of flu cases remained steady and then began to decline.
   
Over 360 deaths from the disease have been reported, but Delamothe says, “Really, flu kills people every year.  And it’s really hard to know whether that’s more than an average year for flu mortality.”
   
Did early warnings and preparedness help?

There were many warnings about the potential danger of H1N1.  And while vaccine was being manufactured, there were campaigns in many countries on how to reduce the spread of flu.  These included washing hands and making sure sneezes were covered.
   
Delamothe asks what steps were really taken to stop the flu.  He questions the effectiveness of the drug Tamiflu, which many people took to reduce flu symptoms.  And he says cases started to decline before a vaccine was fully available.
   
“In this country (Britain) it started about 10 weeks ago and really there’s not been much happening on the flu front since August.  So, I don’t think we can say everything’s panned out as well as it has because of vaccinations.  Certainly not in the U.K. anyway,” he says.
   
The situation appears similar in many other parts of the world, he says, “because vaccination stocks weren’t really available until relatively recently.”
   
Delamothe says data collected by the BMJ “suggest that week on week the number of flu cases is going down….  It was here and now it’s going.  And it’s going pretty fast.”
   
Lessons learned
   
Everything is easier with hindsight, says Delamothe.  But he adds, “I think we’d been primed for a catastrophic mutation of influenza….  The question is:  ‘Given the expectation that a big mutation’s on the way, what do we do when we get the next outbreak in any country in the world?’ “
   
The British Medical Journal deputy editor says, “I feel that we should have worked out much sooner that this wasn’t going to be absolutely catastrophic… . Other people whose business it is to interpret flu surveillance should have at least been a bit more skeptical than they were.”
   
The public, he says, certainly will be much more wary of any future warnings similar to the one about H1N1.
 

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid