Swine Flu = Bunk

Update 11-16-09: Be sure to read the comments before assuming this post has all the info you need.

from the CDC on their page Key Facts About Seasonal Influenza (Flu)

Every year in the United States, on average:

  • 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu;
  • more than 200,000 people are hospitalized from flu-related complications; and
  • about 36,000 people die from flu-related causes.

From the Associated Press and The Discover Channel


The fall flu season has only just begun and already thousands have died from the H1N1 virus.

Estimates of deaths caused by the swine flu have grown to nearly 4,000 since April, roughly quadrupling previous estimates

To borrow from TJIC’s (and the creator of the ONOZ OMG avatar)

But wait. How deadly is the Swine flu really? Let’s see…. four thousand divided by twenty two million is…
4,000 / 22,000,000 = 0.000181

Swine flu AKA H1N1 is 0.018% fatal
Ok, so how deadly is the average flu?

From the CDC stats above, roughly 10% of the US population gets the flu each year… that’s 30,400,000 people. And 36,000 people die from it…

36,000 / 30,400,000 = 0.00118

The average flu is 0.11% fatal

Comparing the two…

0.0011 * n  = 0.00018

n = 6.1

The average flu is 6.1 times more deadly than swine / H1N1 flu.


You’re kidding, right???

Someone is making a lot of money by causing an unwarranted panic. I’m betting it’s the maker of the influenza vaccine and influenza test.


  1. Alexis says:

    Fear is stupid. Swine flu sucks, though, according to the four people I know who have gotten it.

  2. lee says:

    That certainly does. I wish your friends well!

  3. Free says:

    The main reason the swine flu gets all the publicity isn’t how many it kills, but whom it kills. Over 90 percent of seasonal flu victims are over 65, and many are bedridden or in nursing homes or have serious medical problems like cancer or heart disease that the flu worsens. Swine flu, by contrast, has a disproportionate death rate among children. There were 43 child deaths from swine flu in October alone, which is more than the typical number of seasonal flu deaths among children for an entire year. People get much more concerned about something that kills healthy 8 year olds than something that kills sick 80-year-olds.

  4. lee says:

    Free, you’ve got a very good point. Thank you.

  5. lee says:

    Free, I browsed the H1N1 headlines from a pile of major news sources and none of them had a sentence like, “H1N1 kills children 10 times more than regular influenza.” You’d think they would because it sounds scary enough to boost their news ratings, right?

    Instead, they all say something like, “Every year the flu usually kills 36,000 people but H1N1 is a really nasty one.” Implying that there might be many more than 36,000 deaths… maybe twice as many?? Worse??? when actually we’re looking at maybe an extra 500 deaths (1% more than usual), albeit mostly from children which is very unusual and possibly foreboding of nastier flu outbreaks.

    And there’s all these news articles like, “Area man killed by H1N1.” Scary! The trouble is, every year 36,000 Americans die from the flu. These “news” pieces could have aired any year.

    I think this is called a base rate fallacy and the fact that such appeals work on people really frustrates me. It’s related to the following…

    Did you hear about the car accident last week? 1,000 people were killed! Yes, really! Take a look!

    Feh, I know… I’m conflating some ideas here. I should spend the time to sort this all out. But there’s not enough time in a day and I don’t believe I’m helping anyone here, so I’ll leave it alone.

Leave a Comment

Do not write "http://" or "https://" in your comment, it will be blocked. It may take a few days for me to manually approve your first comment.