On Aug. 24, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report that described “a plausible scenario,” in which up to 1.8 million people were hospitalized and 90,000 died from the next round of swine flu in the United States. On Aug. 25, the New York Times reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now saying that what is plausible is not necessarily likely, so few experts really think the toll would be that high.
The president’s council seemed to also have misgivings about its own numbers. It stated, “On the one hand, the 2009-H1N1 virus does not thus far seem to show the virulence associated with the devastating pandemic of 1918-19 … . On the other hand, the 2009-H1N1 virus is a serious threat to our nation and the world, unlike the ‘swine flu’ episode in 1976 that led to the vaccination of over 40 million Americans in the absence of any spread of the virus beyond an initial four cases at a single Army base.”
To help sort out hyperbole from health threat during what is a confusing time for even the most well-informed, the Bangor Daily News has started to put in one place the latest flu information, beginning with data from the CDC and the Maine CDC. The page is http://www.bangordailynews.com/h1n1-swine-flu-information.html.
If you have reliable sources that you think would help Maine better understand the nature of this threat or provide good advice for dealing it, please post them in a comment below. Same thing if you have questions about swine flu. Let’s see if we can come up with some answers that do better than “on the one hand; on the other hand.”