Thursday, 12 November 2009

CDC Guesstimates, 'Recalculates' Swine Flu Deaths

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recalculated its original estimates and is now indicating that over 4,000 Americans have likely died from problems linked to the H1N1 swine-flu virus.

The figure is four times higher than previous estimates of about 1,000 dead provided by federal health officials. The new number reportedly takes into account people who died from other related complications like pneumonia and bacterial infections. But the official tally is based mostly on educated guesses, since the CDC quit tracking actual cases back in August.

According to a Reuters analysis of the data entitled "New US swine flu death estimates will be guess," “The death figures will be based on models, calculated by looking intensively at small groups of people, gathering data on overall reports of sickness and death, and reconciling the two.” The report also noted that there are not nearly enough diagnostic tests to see if everybody with flu-like symptoms really have the H1N1 swine flu.

A CBS investigation in late October revealed that the government was already inflating swine flu numbers, but experts suggest that even 4,000 deaths would still rank the current H1N1 virus as relatively mild. Some doctors have also seriously questioned even the earlier estimates of 1,000 deaths.

“The central question is: have a thousand people died from H1N1,” explained Dr. Joseph Mercola, also an author and vaccine critic, while discussing President Obama’s declaration of a national emergency. “It does not appear to be the case — there are no substantiation or any support or factual data on the CDC’s own website, in fact we have evidence to the contrary.”

The World Health Organization estimates that about 6,000 people have died worldwide from swine flu-related complications. The figure is also based on calculations, not confirmations. But to put that number in perspective, the WHO claims that seasonal influenza is linked to between 250,000 and 500,000 deaths each year.

The Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control has reported slightly more than 400 deaths in Europe so far, while the death toll from a supposed health emergency in Ukraine still remains unclear. British health authorities have been forced to revise future worst-case scenario death-toll estimates down from an original 65,000 to a more modest prediction of 1,000. That number is well under the 4,000 to 8,000 who normally die each year from seasonal flu, Reuters reported in an article entitled "Swine flu skepticism demands deft response" about the alleged profitable “hype” surrounding swine-flu hysteria.

A U.S. presidential council concluded this year that up to 90,000 Americans could die from H1N1-related-complications, but medical experts cited by the New York Times have disputed the assertions. Discussing the new CDC estimates in an article entitled "Recalculating the Tally in Swine Flu Deaths," the Times warned that “a much higher death rate would mean more drastic measures to keep people apart and could mean, for example, adding immune-boosting adjuvants to the vaccine so more people could get it.”

The new estimates come as the federal government still faces massive problems nearly a month into its mass vaccination campaign. Concerns about safety and efficacy, along with reports of side effects including the neurological disorder Gullian-Barre Syndrome and even deaths attributed to the vaccine in Europe have caused many Americans to remain skeptical of the government program. There have also been reports of some vaccine shortages, but whether the shortages are real or are merely part of a strategy to get people to clamor for the vaccine, a move that was proposed at the Council on Foreign Relations to build up demand for the inoculations, is unknown.

The government routinely misleads the public with its numbers, on everything from the Consumer Price Index to unemployment figures to health statistics. Whether 4,000 people have actually died from complications “related” to swine flu is certainly up for debate, but Americans should always regard government numbers with healthy suspicion until proven with facts. More importantly though, education is key for individuals and families considering options to keep the flu at bay.

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