The reason there is all of the 'grandstanding' and 'media hype' is because there is a huge amount of uncertainty as to just how lethal h1ni can be, and we will not know until perhaps the end of flu season, or maybe even next year. As Andrew pointed out, 3.1 million people die every year from Aids. Perhaps he is too young to remember, but I remember a time when AIDS was the lead story on the news, and was no less hyped than what we are seeing now. We (the world economy) have spent tens of billions of dollars on AIDS education, prevention, and research precisely because it kills so many people, and yet AIDS is still a major health threat. A lot of people poo-pooed the media hype then because it was widely assumed only gay men could get it. Until Ryan White
. Anybody remember him? AIDS is not forgotten, it has just been with us for so long that we are used to it, and do not even think about it. Would it be reasonable to say that AIDS is over-hyped? I can't think of too many days when there is not some media mention of AIDS. That is how one confronts a pandemic.
The 1918 flu pandemic
killed anywhere between 20 and 50 million
people worldwide. At the low end of the estimate, that is 6 years of aids deaths. At the high end, close to 17 years worth of AIDS deaths. Somewhere in the area of 675,000 people died in the United States from the flu that year. According to the Census bureau, there were 103,208,000 citizens in the US
. Actually, if you look at the census numbers, it is the only year in the last 100 where the population decreased. Anyway, by my math that represents almost 7/10ths of a percent of the population. If we consider the current population
, and the current lethality of H1N1, then it is not entirely unreasonable to extrapolate that there could be as many as 2 million deaths in the United States alone. In 1918, it was estimated that one third of the population got the flu. Given our current population, we are talking over 100 million people sickened.
One last extrapolation. The world population in 1918 was estimated to be around 1.8 billion (again, according to the Census Bureau). If we take the middle figure of 35 million deaths from the 1918 flu (which by the way is of the same genetic family as H1N1), then roughly 2% of the world population died. Even if, in spite of our best efforts only .5% of the world population died, that is still 33 million deaths.
Granted, we have much better medical treatment now, and we are supposedly more educated about infection prevention. How about this for an example. I had a Windows 7 release event on Friday, and about 25 people came through. I had computers set up so that people could try out Windows 7. I pointed out to each of them that there was a bottle of hand sanitizer on the table they could use when they were done. 2 people the entire day actually used it. Apparently, we are still stupid, and need the media hype to help pull our heads out of our asses. Given the responses in this thread, it is apparent that not enough people understand the issue and the concern (hiney flu? Seriously? And thanks for proving my point). And the thing is, even if there are only 50,000 deaths from H1N1, nobody will even consider how many deaths may have been prevented. We are just that stupid.
So yes, one can argue with my figures, because the simple fact is that nobody knows how many people will be affected, or how many people will die, or any of a number of other factors that could happen. For instance, if we have a particularly cold winter, there may be less instances of flu. If we have a particularly warm winter, flu occurrences could climb. I think maybe we should reserve judgment and see how things shake out.
@the_patriot09, are you serious? So if this is an excuse for the US to go to communism, what about the rest of the world then? Are you really of the belief that this whole thing is a ploy for communism to take over the world? The same media blitz that you see here is going on all over the world.