Do you want the good news, or the bad? The bad news is that buying a newspaper won’t save you from swine flu. The good news is that swine flu is one of the most over-hyped media stories in recent times. They can smell your FEAR. But here are some facts.
The headlines are shouting that 156 people have contracted swine flu in Mexico so far. Fair enough, but in a country with a population of 110 million, that’s about 0.0001418%. The UK equivalent would be 85 people. But a quick glance at the World Health Organisation website will tell you that of those 156 confirmed human cases of infection, only nine have died. So the equivalent death figure for the UK would be more like five. Tops. To put that in perspective, there were approximately 2,000 deaths, mainly in children from Africa and Asia, just yesterday. Not swine flu – malaria.
And what do you do when you get flu? You bunk off work, watch DVDs, pump yourself with drugs and drink lots and lots of water. Whether, it’s the H1N1 Virus or Man Flu, the treatment is the same. But most Mexicans can’t afford the drugs. And even in Mexico City, they’ve got serious water problems. They’ve got more reliable access to broadband than to running water. How many times more likely are you to die from flu in Mexico than in the UK? Impossible to say, but it’s a big number.
That's it. Rant over. We're off to amuse ourselves with some highly inappropiate sneezing in public.
Number of unconfirmed swine flu deaths in Mexico over a three week period: 156
Number of confirmed swine flu deaths in Mexico over a three week period: 9
Number of deaths in the US from flu-related symptoms in an average year: 36,000
Number of masks ordered by the UK since the outbreak: 60,000,000