Friday, 17 July 2009

The 65,000 Person Question

The launch of the National Pandemic Flu Service coincides with the announcement that the NHS is preparing for the worse case scenario of 65,000 deaths this year through swine flu. The advise is based on 30% of the population falling ill. Children under 14 are being hit hardest and the NHS was told to plan for a worst-case scenario of up to half of all children being infected during a first pandemic wave.

The figure of 30% for the model is based on the pandemics of 1957-58 and 1968-70, the scenario is also ranging the number of fatalities from 19,000 to 65,000 based on the 33,000 in that first pandemic and a few thousand less at the time end of the 60s. The NHS is being prepared for 12% of the workforce being off work sick, but emphasis this is not a prediction just a figure based on the worse case scenario. They are expecting the occurrence of cases to drop off over the summer but to peak again in October after children have returned again to school.

While Tower Hamlets has the highest proportion of visits at 769, per 100,000 0f population and London boroughs of Hackney, Islington and Lewisham not far behind the rich and famous are also not immune to it. Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, ex-Prime Minister's wife Cherie Booth, England footballer Micah Richards are just the tip of the iceberg of high profile cases.

To put things into perspective in some years there can be as many as 20,000 extra deaths a year related to influenza. Those with underlying health conditions, the young and the old are most at risk and are the categories being targeted for the government immunisation programme.

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