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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora