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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid