Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Unlikely Pandemic?

The silliness of bird flu panic by Gregg Easterbrook

This article makes the case that an avian flu pandemic is unlikely.

All this for a disease that since 2003 has killed 113 people worldwide. During the same span, about 4 million have died worldwide in traffic accidents. The number of these deaths is rising steadily in most nations, with road fatalities on track to become the world's third-leading cause of death - —that is, traffic accidents look exactly like a pandemic. Also since 2003, at least 6 million people worldwide have died of diarrheal diseases, with about 1.5 million of those deaths attributed to rotavirus, which has spread in pandemic fashion. Yet the panic button has been pushed only for bird flu.

Interesting statistics. It would be nice to have been provided the source for them. Also seriously doubt the traffic deaths look like a pandemic. I find it very unlikely that traffic deaths include the rapid increase over time portion of the pandemic description - even without seeing the statistics I would be very surprised if the increase was not fairly small compared to the underlying total. But data showing the deaths over time would show whether a pandemic comparison is sensible.

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