Michael Fumento

Okay, now grab the calculator and divide those “more than 1 million infections” into the 302 deaths. The fatality rate is less than 0.03%.

How much less? The CDC first used the “one million” figure over a month ago. Either there have been a lot of new infections in that time, meaning the death rate has indeed fallen well below 0.003%, or else there have not been – which is also good news.

But let’s be sporting and use an even million.

Dividing “15 to 60 million infections” into 36,000 deaths provides a seasonal flu death rate ranging from 0.006% to 0.024%. That’s twice to eight times the swine flu death rate.

Are you still getting out the plastic sheeting and duct tape?

Ah, but AP has another explanation for the potentially high toll. It’s if “a new vaccine and other efforts fail.”

Far more likely than an outright failure would be what’s called a “mismatch.” That means the vaccine gives only partial coverage. Still, some of those vaccinated would not become infected and therefore neither die nor infect others, who in turn would neither die nor infect others. So even a mismatch could considerably lower deaths.

Moreover, lest we forget in our haste to produce front-page material, there’s no swine flu vaccine now. Will a “failed” vaccine somehow make swine flu more lethal?

Conclusion: The CDC is playing the same games it did with heterosexual AIDS, SARS,and avian flu – promoting panic far out of proportion to the problem. I wrote exposes on each of those scares at the time. The “secret?” Checking sources, putting facts before fear mongering, and keeping a sense of perspective – right next to the calculator.

Why the CDC promotes such hysteria is another story. But safe to say that among the reasons are that it knows the media have little interest in the fairy tale called “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”

For the American public, that’s very unhealthy indeed.

Michael Fumento

Michael Fumento is a, journalist, and attorney specializing in science and health issues as well as author of BioEvolution: How Biotechnology is Changing Our World .

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