White House: Swine Flu Could Kill 90,000 People This Year

Posted on August 24, 2009

Bloomberg reports that White House advisers say the H1N1 swine flu virus could kill 90,000 and hospitalize 1.8 million people this year. Swine flu has hospitalized about 8,000 and killed over 500 so far this year so the bulk of the deaths and hospitalizations would come in the last four months of the year. That would be around 22,000 deaths per month and 450,000 hospitalizations per month if this does indeed occur.

Swine flu may infect half the U.S. population this year, hospitalize 1.8 million patients and lead to as many as 90,000 deaths, more than twice the number killed in a typical seasonal flu, White House advisers said.

In a report by the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, President Barack Obama today was urged to speed vaccine production and name a senior member of the White House staff, preferably the homeland security adviser, to take responsibility for decision-making on the pandemic. Initial doses should be accelerated to mid-September to vaccinate as many as 40 million people, the advisory group said.

If that many people get sick there are going to be lots of people out of work and possibly a lot of confusion. If hospitals get overwhelmed then we will run into extra problems. The HHS has said that even the high priority groups will not be fully immunized until Thanksgiving. If the vaccine had been made available by August 1st and immunizations were already underway then you probably wouldn't have this concern about 90,000 potential deaths. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. The vaccine is not coming in time to beat the return of students to schools and cooler fall temperatures. This means a lot of people will probably be exposed to the virus before they receive their first of two immunizations.

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