Swine flu cases doubled to 100,000 last week
They doubled to 100,000 did they? Definitely?
The number of swine flu cases in Britain nearly doubled last week, as an estimated 100,000 people were infected, officials said today
So this isn't 100,000 people definitely affected, it's 100,000 people reporting flu-like symptoms. That's not the same as cases doubling at all. Out of these '100,000', how many were seriously affected?
Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer for England, said that as of today, 840 people were being treated in hospital after contracting the H1N1 virus.
...which is less than one per cent, if we're to believe the estimates. If anything that demonstrates how thankfully un-lethal this strain of flu has been so far, doesn't it? But you wouldn't know it from reading the press, 'quality' papers like the Times or Telegraph or tabloids alike.
There's more detail in there to back this up:
According to Sir Liam’s latest weekly update, the deaths of 26 people in England have been provisionally linked to the virus. Not all of these deaths have been fully investigated, but of the fatal cases where post-mortem examinations have been carried out, 67 per cent had severe health problems and 16 per cent were said to have been healthy previously.
So that's 26 deaths from supposedly 100,000 cases, which works out at very low mortality rate, even when compared to bog-standard winter flu. Where are the headlines about this? The reporters have the data to hand. Why must they concentrate on 'cases' rising while the truth may well be that many of these 'cases' are just people self-reporting less serious illnesses, or even bunking off work?
Now I know headlines are not the same as stories, but you have to wonder why quality newspapers, when they're using the internet where words are not limited to a small space as it is in a dead-tree newspaper, can't be bothered to get it right. Are they deliberately getting it wrong to ramp up the fear and indulge in another bit of panic-porn?
PS The other angle to the story is about the NHS swine flu website crashing after it was launched - presumably under the sheer number of journalists trying to get on it to see if it would crash. But look, it's working now. Any stories about that...? No...?