• Getting perspective on the risk

    by  • April 27, 2009 • Flu • 3 Comments

    New York City metro area has a population of about 18 million people.

    The 1918 flu infected something like a third of the population globally. CAR (Case Attack Rate) = 33%.

    Something like 2% to 5% of those infected died. For our calculation we will use 2%. CFR (Case Fatality Rate) = 2%

    18 million people * 33% * 2% = 120,000 dead.

    (118800 to be precise.)

    That’s equivalent to forty 9/11s happening in a single year. In New York City alone. But a pandemic flu would affect the entire world at once.

    Do you understand why we are so worried about pandemic flu now? We don’t know that the swine flu will be as bad as the 1918 flu – there are some signs it could be significantly worse and other signs it might not be nearly as bad. But the concern is real, rational and rooted in history. Nobody gets to mock those who are working on reducing our exposure to this threat.

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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    3 Responses to Getting perspective on the risk

    1. Kári
      April 29, 2009 at 3:52 pm
    2. Kári
      April 29, 2009 at 3:56 pm

      From the article:

      “Just a couple of months ago, scientists concluded that the 1918 flu pandemic that killed between 50-100 million people worldwide in a matter of 18 months — which all these worst case scenarios are built upon — was NOT due to the flu itself!4

      Instead, they discovered the real culprit was strep infections.

      People with influenza often get what is known as a “superinfection” with a bacterial agent. In 1918 it appears to have been Streptococcus pneumoniae.

      Since strep is much easier to treat than the flu using modern medicine, a new pandemic would likely be much less dire than it was in the early 20th century, the researchers concluded.”

    3. April 29, 2009 at 4:07 pm

      I think it’s a mixture of sense and nonsense – very dangerous and misleading in a lot of places. Ignore and avoid.

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