The flu marches on

The influenza A(H1N1) seems to have fallen largely out of the news since WHO dubbed it a pandemic. I suppose the lack of piles of dead bodies have had reporters go elsewhere for stories. Despite this, the spread continues. Witness my updated graph of WHO data:

20090618__h1n1

The more recent portion of the graph is disjointed because the figures have been released sporadically, the daily updated have given way to an update every two or three days. As you can see, the spread has accelerating in June. As of yesterday’s update, 39620 cases have been confirmed with 167 fatalities. This results in a fatality rate of 0.42%, or between four and five per thousand. But this is a world-wide average. Remove Mexico from the tally and the number of cases drops slightly to 33379, but the fatalities plummet to just 59. This is a fatality rate of 0.18%, or slightly less than two per thousand.

We’ll see what happens in the fall. The regular flu season will arrive and I imagine H1N1 will take a greater hold of the northern hemisphere. I’ve read predictions that half the population will be infected. If this were to happen, and the fatality rate remains at 0.18%, Canada would suffer 54000 deaths. This is in excess of a magnitude more deaths than we see in an average year from the flu.

At this point, I wonder about the usefulness of the numbers in the WHO updates. We now know the virus is here and how quickly it’s spreading. Confirming every case as the numbers grow will become less important, and increasingly difficult. Resources are better used elsewhere.

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