We just had a placeholder type of stake so it stays on my first line of radar, but it's just been sitting there in purgatory for a while. So I am going to boot this for now and we'll reassess later.
Perhaps I am overreacting to the Swine Flu threat, but this really could be a big story if even half of what I'm reading comes to fruition.
- Swine flu may hospitalize 1.8 million patients in the U.S. this year, filling intensive care units to capacity and causing “severe disruptions” during a fall resurgence, scientific advisers to the White House warned.
- Swine flu, also known as H1N1, may infect as much as half of the population and kill 30,000 to 90,000 people, double the deaths caused by the typical seasonal flu.
- The president’s advisory council describes as a “plausible scenario,” that 30 percent to 50 percent of the U.S. population will be infected in the fall and winter. “This is a planning scenario, not a prediction,” according to the report. “But the scenario illustrates that an H1N1 resurgence could cause serious disruption of social and medical capacities in our country in the coming months.”
- The scenario projections were “developed from models put together for planning purposes only,” said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the CDC, at a briefing in Atlanta today. “At the end of the day, we simply don’t know what this upcoming flu season is going to look like. It could be severe, it could be mild, we just don’t know.”
- “This isn’t the flu that we’re used to,” said Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. health and human services secretary. “The 2009 H1N1 virus will cause a more serious threat this fall."
- New Zealand and Australia, in the midst of their normal flu seasons, have reported intensive care units taxed to capacity by swine flu patients. The experience provides clues to what the U.S., Europe and Japan may see when the H1N1 virus returns.
- The median age of those with the pandemic virus has been 12 to 17 years, the WHO said on July 24, citing data from Canada, Chile, Japan, U.K. and the U.S.
- Pregnant women, who have “a disturbingly high burden of disease” from swine flu, only get vaccinated for seasonal flu about 15 percent of the time. Pregnant women are a top priority for vaccinations, she said.
- Seasonal flu usually kills about 36,000 Americans. Swine flu causes more severe illness needing hospitalization among younger people than seasonal flu, while leaving people 65 and older relatively unscathed, said Mike Shaw, associate director of laboratory science at the CDC’s flu division.
On the other hand, airlines wouldn't do quite so well in such a situation. Nor do I believe the "efficient" market is discounting any probability of something of this sort happening. We shall see - it's a big unknown.