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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid