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.