Bangkok (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The swine flu of 2009 killed
about 284,500 people, mainly concentrated in South-east Asia and Africa, with a
total death toll of at least 15 times more than the figures from the laboratory
tests used at the time of the pandemic. This is shown by a study published by
the prestigious Lancet magazine based in London and specialized
in the field of medicine, according to which the number of casualties could even
have been as high as 579,000. At first, the number of deaths from swine flu
established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) stood at 18,500. These were
deaths related to the virus recognized by laboratory tests, which the same
international organization at the time called a "gross underestimate"
because of the failure to count allo those persons - living in poor or remote
areas - who did not have access to health care and because 'H1N1' is not always
The new study also shows that the impact of the pandemic has
varied greatly depending on the region, with 51% of deaths from swine flu
concentrated in Africa and South-East Asia. These two areas alone are home to
about 38% of the world's population and showed a greater incidence of disease.
For experts the new estimate is a confirmation of how
dangerous the disease is, which did not claim more victims only because it
didn't strike older people. Among the reasons, the researchers warn, is the
fact that the older segement of the population was protected because in the
past they had contracted a very similar virus, for which their body had
developed the appropriate defenses.
Dr. Fatimah Dawood, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention and author of the study, said that "this pandemic really
did take an enourmous toll" of victims. And she added the importance of
the delivery of vaccines in the areas hardest hit by the virus. The first case
was registered in Mexico in March 2009 then, after reaching California, it
spread around the world, generating fear and panic. In June of that year,
experts declared the pandemic, with H1N1 present in 74 countries worldwide.
The data shows that 80% of the victims of Influenza A were
below the age of 65, while the classical seasonal influenza causes more deaths
among the elderly, with a figure that hovers between 80 and 90% of the deaths.
Last year a group of experts convened by the WHO developed a study, from which
emerged the mismanagement of the pandemic on the part of the UN World Health
Organization, which was unable to develop proper guidelines and whose plan to
fight the pandemic was insufficient. In contrast, Europe has accused the agency
of having provoked an unjustified alarm and of having caused the unnecessary
waste of huge amounts of money in the purchase of vaccines.