» 06/27/2012, 00.00
Swine flu: the number of victims - more than half a million - is 15 times higher than that reported by the WHO
This is what emerges from a recent study in the United States. Most deaths from the pandemic, which broke out in 2009, were concentrated in South-east Asia and Africa. The new estimate is about 284,000 dead, but the total number could reach 579,000.
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.
Swine Flu: global pandemic, the first in 21 century
The WHO decision does not refer to virulence or severity but only to the geographic spread. The virus is present in 74 nations and cannot be stopped. Calls for a vaccine; only be available in September. Greatest concerns for poorer nations in Southern Hemisphere, as winter arrives.
The last pandemic dates to â€™68 and led to the deaths of 1 million people. But the WHO is fearful of a scene similar to the Spanish flu of 1926 that led to the deaths of 50 million people.
Avian flu pandemic feared
According to the World Health Organisation, the virus might affect 30 per cent of the world's population.
Swine flu: more cases in Thailand, China and India
Infections quadruple in Thailand. China and India report 196 and 23 cases respectively. Now the virus is spreading beyond tourist destinations with local hotbeds of infection.
The influenza A virus has not mutated, vaccine should to be ready soon
The World Health Organisation tries to be reassuring, saying the virus has not mutated. It expects three billion doses of vaccine to be available in a few months time. It still calls for high levels of alert.
Swine flue: Indonesia fears combination of avian and swine flues
A total of 86 cases have been reported in Indonesia. Thailand shuts down 435 schools and 200 kindergartens in Bangkok for disinfection. In Saudi Arabia one school is closed after 20 students test positive. Bahrain tells people to avoid pilgrimage to Makkah.
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