The Los Angeles Times reports that there is a growing belief among scientists that the H1N1 flu is not particularly lethal. Or even all that threatening.
In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.
“Let’s not lose track of the fact that the normal seasonal influenza is a huge public health problem that kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. alone and hundreds of thousands around the world,” said Dr. Christopher Olsen, a molecular virologist who studies swine flu at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine in Madison.
This virus doesn’t have anywhere near the capacity to kill like the 1918 virus,” which claimed an estimated 50 million victims worldwide, said Richard Webby, a leading influenza virologist at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.
Which makes Joe Biden’s attempts to spread terror and panic this morning even more inexplicable. Unless, of course, the whole point of the dire warnings is to stir up terror and panic:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs issued an apology Thursday for Vice President Joe Biden’s comments that he wouldn’t recommend taking a commercial flight or riding in a subway car because swine flu virus can spread in confined places.
Biden’s “clarification” issued later is a joke. He said what he said:
“I would tell members of my family – and I have – I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” Biden said on NBC’s “Today” show.. “It’s not that it’s going to Mexico. It’s [that] you’re in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. …
I take a somewhat jaundiced view of the whole thing because I have seen this all to often. SARS was trumpeted as the deadliest thing ever – or the press made it sound that way. It killed 775 people worldwide. The 1976 “swine flu” outbreak killed fewer people than the vaccine that was supposed to stop it.
36,000 die every year in this country due to regular flu with no outcry and no hoopla. Some perspective helps.