The comeback being reported for the H1N1 virus is happening not only in doctors’ offices, but also in the media. And yet even with this virus which held the media’s attention for so long is taking its first baby steps back into the public eye, there are many people who are demanding a bit more perspective on the disease. Still others are suggesting that the virus is all part of a number of conspiracies, many of which are said to involve the vaccines.
The most often talked about of the conspiracy theories surrounding the H1N1 virus and its reputation have to do with the disproportionate amount of attention the virus received as a deadly strain of the Flu when the listed mortality rate as potentially exceeding 30,000 in the US alone, it only claimed around 18,000 lives worldwide. This difference suggests that of the total severity of all flu strains, the H1N1 pandemic only accounted for approximately 4% of all flu related deaths that year. Of course the idea that the World Health Organization alongside others could have unnecessarily caused a panic in relation to the Swine Flu Pandemic is still a matter of investigation and scrutiny among critics.
GP consultations for flu-like illnesses are in fact far lower this year than they were last year and previous years. Whether this means fewer people are actually getting the flu or they are simply not reporting it is a matter left up to the scrutiny of health officials. Still, the idea that fewer consultations are taking place does seem to suggest we are certainly not in the grips of a national pandemic of H1N1. And so of course many are still asking the question whether the scare was profit motivated. During 2009 when the Swine Flu pandemic was in full swing, Novartis reported an 8 percent jump in annual net profit from the event and largely attributed it to peoples’ fears over swine flu.
Now that many people have in fact had the swine flu, they are suggesting that the fears were largely based more on “what ifs” than actual figures. The idea that this super bug could wipe out a significant portion of the population is laughable now that we in 2010 can see that it was simply not the case. But were these fears based entirely on a genuine understanding of the genetics of the disease? Or was it derived largely from news outlets touting that the H1N1 pandemic was far more serious than it actually was? Hindsight is 20-20, but does this mean we should not learn from our own recent history?
According to figures drawn from the site Kevinmd.com, approximately 61 million people received a dose of the H1N1 vaccine last year. Many of these were compulsory and work or school related to stem the tide of the disease. Of these 61 million, an unknown number were motivated by fears related to deaths over the disease. But even though the first reports suggested the illness could be extremely dangerous, just as was the case with bird flu, the massive casualties projected did not come to pass. And now that 2010’s flu season is upon us, are we going to receive the same alarming figures we did last year?