On second thought, don’t panic

posted at 2:12 pm on April 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

With Joe Biden keeping his family off of public transportation and Barack Obama giving prime-time hygiene lessons, one might be forgiven for climbing into a bunker while waiting for the first third of Stephen King’s The Stand to unfold.  Instead, people can stand down from panic mode.  Scientists have begun concluding that the latest strain of the swine flu, or H1N1 for those too sensitive to pork, may in fact be less dangerous than normal flu strains we see every year:

As the World Health Organization raised its infectious disease alert level Wednesday and health officials confirmed the first death linked to swine flu inside U.S. borders, scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza — at least in its current form — isn’t shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.

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.

That’s exactly what I wrote yesterday.  Apart from Mexico, WHO scientists haven’t seen excess mortality in infected people.  They’re beginning to suspect that a complicating condition exists there, either poorer medical response or another environmental component that creates more fatalities.

It’s still too early to dismiss the danger out of hand, and the lack of a specific vaccine for this strain makes response slower than anyone would like.  However, the amount of panic over the handful of cases worldwide seems all out of proportion, and perhaps nowhere more so than at the White House itself.  Clearly, they wanted a chance to show that they could handle a crisis, and either purposefully or accidentally blew this one into a crisis so severe that Americans had to be warned away from public transport.

The flu causes far too many deaths in the US and around the world, and those at higher risk need to take precautions against exposure.  Let’s keep the overall danger in perspective, though.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

When is Geraldo going to Mexico to cover the swine flu? I want him to talk to little patient zero and debunk the internet rumor that a US-owned industrial pig production facility is the source of the swine flu pandemic. I want him to find out whether the rural Mexican pig farmers get their stock vaccinated for the swine flu. I want him to interview those ‘private’ clinics that failed to diagnose the first fatal victim’s illness. I want to see what kind of health care the average Mexican receives. I want to see how the Mexican media covers the swine flu story.

eigafan on April 30, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Just read on the headlines portion of the site, ABC says the delegate tested negative, for swine flu. Darn! I was so looking forward to those photo op pics of Obama playing with his doggie, and getting pulled around the yard by his ears.

capejasmine on April 30, 2009 at 3:24 PM

So..so…I can eat bacon again?

lorien1973 on April 30, 2009 at 2:15 PM

No, go for the Bacone!

But then you’ll need to go jog for 5 miles to get back down to weight.

kirkill on April 30, 2009 at 3:25 PM

eigafan on April 30, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Geraldo? They’ll just send Michael Moron.

kirkill on April 30, 2009 at 3:26 PM

I have it all figured out. Biden took an Amtrak jaunt down to Mexico a month of so ago and became the horse that escaped the barn back to the US. When he returned, after sneezing and spreading the virus over his bacon and eggs at Katie’s Diner, he stopped by his local Home Depot. After shaking hands with all of the illegal day workers hanging out in the lot, he felt that he had done an admirable job in delivering the promise of a crisis in the first six months of this administration.

onlineanalyst on April 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM

I have it all figured out. Biden took an Amtrak jaunt down to Mexico a month of so ago and became the horse that escaped the barn back to the US. When he returned, after sneezing and spreading the virus over his bacon and eggs at Katie’s Diner, he stopped by his local Home Depot. After shaking hands with all of the illegal day workers hanging out in the lot, he felt that he had done an admirable job in delivering the promise of a crisis in the first six months of this administration.

onlineanalyst on April 30, 2009 at 3:27 PM

ROFL!!!!! Excellent!

capejasmine on April 30, 2009 at 3:29 PM

We should have a contest to rename the flu…

Chicken Little Flu? Napolitano Disease?

I personally am calling it Javalina Flu because they are native here and Mexico…

“Obama/Biden Overreact Syndrome”? “Sebalius Confirmation Syndrome”

Those Work.

petunia on April 30, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Sunday:

Again, based on the incubation period, neither he, nor anybody that he traveled with, nor anybody in the press corps that I’m aware of would have exhibited any symptoms that would have caused any heightened awareness.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Press-Briefing-On-Swine-Influenza-4/26/09/

Today:

The White House is issuing a health advisory outlining protective measures for anyone who traveled on President Barack Obama’s trip to Mexico, after a member of the U.S. delegation came down with flu-like symptoms – and tests on that staffers’ family showed they are probably infected with the swine flu.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0409/21940.html

Phoenician on April 30, 2009 at 3:32 PM

What’s next………

……… Freedom of Speech crisis, 2nd Amendment crisis, Re-Education crisis………..

Seven Percent Solution on April 30, 2009 at 2:58 PM

A 2nd Amendment crisis would bite them in the backside much more than any flu bug and way beyond anything they have dreamed up so far.

I’m sitting, and I’m watching and I’m waiting. So is the NRA.

Yoop on April 30, 2009 at 3:35 PM

State of fear.

spmat on April 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Well, I’ll be damned, I do believe you just discovered Obama’s 57th state.

Yoop on April 30, 2009 at 3:42 PM

The Mexican Swine Flu. They are covering up the actual body count and the closing of state borders in Mexico.

Jerricho68 on April 30, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Ahh, reminds me of when I was in University in Canada and a few people died in Eastern Canada of meningitis. Suddenly, it became a huge crisis that we all had to vaccinated. Yet only those few people died.

I don’t mind being cautious, but this “OMG we’re all gonna die!11!!!!1!!” is a little overblown.

mjk on April 30, 2009 at 3:58 PM

State of fear.

spmat on April 30, 2009 at 3:17 PM

Well, I’ll be damned, I do believe you just discovered Obama’s 57th state.

Yoop on April 30, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Even the dead from there voted five times each. Osama’s Brown Shirts AKA acorn are going to do the next census.

Jerricho68 on April 30, 2009 at 3:59 PM

It was awesome when Fox News blamed illegal immigrants for spreading it.

Dave Rywall on April 30, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Yes lets try to keep the things in “perspective.” By understanding that the flu virsuses ( < plural) MUTATE.

The swine flue is a mixture of three different flu viruses, pig, human, and avian. Scientist have always predicted that because pigs can get any one of the three viruses they would eventually be able to recombine the DNA of the three viruses and then pass a long a human to human strain after recombination.

One option would include a deadly virus after recombination while other scientist predict an overall weakened strain because of it’s need to be mixed in order to be human to human susceptible.

So, in perspective, swine flu has the capacity to “evolve” (i know that’s hard for some of you to understand, evolution and what not). This would make it more deadly than it currently ‘is not.’ Therein, we need to use every effort to stop it’s spread, so it has less of an opportunity to “evolve.”

PresidenToor on April 30, 2009 at 4:12 PM

Presidentoor:

Perhaps you need to look at the concept of evolution a little closer. Evolution does not always produce a more virulent strain. It could and probably will get weaker. The more incapacitating strains of any pathogen die out since they are less likely to spread. It could even evolve to the point where it is no longer human-to-human transmittable.

The 1918 virus was lethal because the general health of the population was much worse then it is today and it the trenches and slums of the time provided a perfect environment for very lethal strains to flourish and survive.

jerryofva on April 30, 2009 at 4:23 PM

jerryofva on April 30, 2009 at 4:23 PM

I agree I think we should just wait and see what happnes. Then act after the virus decides to be deadly or not.

PresidenToor on April 30, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Many years ago I heard that pigs would fly before a black man would be elected President – now Swine Flu.

Pelayo on April 30, 2009 at 5:34 PM

Wow, President Obama sure made this better fast!

eeyore on April 30, 2009 at 6:01 PM

I started to go to Walmart and start a coughing fit just to see what would happen but I chickened out.

GoodBoy on April 30, 2009 at 6:10 PM

The 1918 pandemic came in three seasonal waves and and the first (also in spring) was not as lethal. I agree that people shouldn’t panic, but that doesn’t mean a new strain of flu is something we should be looking to catch.

With all the number fudging Mexico is doing I’m not sure about it’s lethality, but it’ll be a couple of weeks before we know for sure if the Swine Flu is bad so why take chances?

Rob Taylor on April 30, 2009 at 7:12 PM

Three facts about Swine Flu

Cause of Swine Flue: George Bush
Reason Swine Flue Emigrated from Mexico to USA: George Bush
Person responsible for exaggerating the destructive capacity of Swine Flu: George Bush

LOL

MaiDee on April 30, 2009 at 7:32 PM

Flue? Of course I meant Flu.

MaiDee on April 30, 2009 at 7:34 PM

The swine flue is a mixture of three different flu viruses, pig, human, and avian. Scientist have always predicted that because pigs can get any one of the three viruses they would eventually be able to recombine the DNA of the three viruses and then pass a long a human to human strain after recombination.

PresidenToor on April 30, 2009 at 4:12 PM

The initial suppositions and reporting on this was wrong, apparently. Please do your part to help stop the spread of this meme by not propagating it further.

It’s now known that this is a simple combination of two known strains of pig flu. Please pass the updated information around, there’s too many nutjobs hatching conspiracy theories already.

Swine Flu Genes From Pigs Only, Not Humans or Birds.

VekTor on April 30, 2009 at 7:35 PM

Avoid Swine Flu!! Refuse to watch Green Acres. Throw all copies of Animal Farm, Charlotte’s Web and any Al Gore books/movies out the window!

GoodBoy on April 30, 2009 at 7:41 PM

So … how is Big Joe getting to work these days? Isn’t he the one who brags about commuting to work for decades via Amtrak?

Just sayin’

HiredGun

HiredGun on May 1, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Comment pages: 1 2