Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flu pandemic

The WHO's saying a flu pandemic is "imminent". Here's a quick perspective on this. The flu pandemic of 1918 was probably the deadliest outbreak on record. The highest estimated mortality rate for it is 5%. That doesn't mean 5% of the population died, it means 5% of the people who caught the flu died. In the US only 28% of the population caught the flu. That means that, if you were around during the epidemic, you had a 98.5% chance of living through it and a 72% chance of never even coming down with it. And those were the odds in the days before rapid communication made tracking outbreaks easy, and before we had a lot of modern treatments for the primary killers (pneumonia and the like).

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