How close are we to Armageddon?
Is the eleventh Plague upon us?
Blood, Frogs, Gnats, Death to Livestock, Pestilence, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, Slaying of the Firstborn…and now H1N1 swine flu?
Is this the return of the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 during which about 50 million people died?
Assess swine flu this way: according to the Center for Disease Control each year in the United States, on average, 5% to 20% of the population get the flu; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes. That’s 100 deaths each day. So far one U.S. death has been recorded from swine flu. And research indicates the H1N1 strain is no more virulent than the typical yearly flu.
USA Today reports that the Mexican health secretary said that the H1N1 strain is not as lethal as originally thought.
Nonetheless, the threat of a pandemic shakes the walls of every newsroom and Congressional office. Doctors are assailed by patients demanding Tamiflu (oseltamivir) or Relenza (zanamivir). This is good for the makers of those drugs. It is also good for the flu virus because the more people who get Tamiflu and Relenza when not really needed, the more likely it is that new strains resistant to these drugs will mutate into existence.
Perhaps I am cynical, but I suspect the reason for all the hype is this: the bigger the crisis, the bigger the budgets for the yellers.