Well, when something is new, it’s sensational. And sensational sells newspapers.
The whole thing, at this point, has been simply dismissed by a lot of people (including a lot here at FR, many of whom have called it things like a “hoax.”). What they fail to understand is that pandemics start small and we are still in the early stages. The real impact on public health will come later. It’s like getting news of a distant train rolling down the track. When it doesn’t arrive in the first couple of weeks, people dismiss it.
It’s also true that this flu, so far, has “only” about a 0.6% fatality rate. That means there’s a 99.4% chance you’ll live through it... if you get it, which maybe 2/3rds of people won’t. So that puts the odds of your survival at around 99.8%. Even if you have a large family, and even if 1/3rd of the country comes down with this flu, odds are excellent that you’ll all live through it. That’s the good news.
The bad news is that this bug has the potential, at least, to kill around 600,000 people in the US alone. That’s 200 times as many people as we lost in the World Trade Center event. And unlike seasonal flu, this flu kills a high percentage of children, young people and adults in the prime of life.
WILL we lose that many people? Hopefully not. I’m hoping we won’t get anywhere near that number. But every person we lose will be another family devastated by this thing, completely without regard to the economic consequences. And anyone who thinks this flu is a “joke” or a “hoax” is simply ignorant or delusional.
This possibility is not out of the question and the probability of increased lethality is amplified by the unique composition of H1N1, a combination of Human, Swine and Avian Flu.
This story is likely far from over IMO.