To me, this whole exercise reeks of King Canute and the tide, except that he had the sense to realize it couldn't be stopped from coming in and was simply making a point to his more enthusiastic courtiers.
Someone (I think it was on Radio 4 this morning) described Swine 'flu as 'a story that was failing to live up to expectations'. Others, however, think I am not taking it seriously enough.
So how bad might it get? As it happens, we can get a good idea from a written answer by the then-Secretary of State for Health, given in October 2007 to the Shadow Secretary, Andrew Lansley, who asked (inter alia), "how many deaths resulting from influenza infection there were in each year since 1979". This is from her reply:
|Estimated excess deaths due to influenza in England and Wales|
|Influenza season||Number of excess deaths|
The last official epidemic, it will be noted, resulted in over 22,000 deaths. So far, Swine 'flu has managed a UK total of 17.
Now we may well be on the way to a parallel situation to 1999-2000, or even to 1989-90, when almost 27,000 died, and I think even I caught it. (Unlike most men, I rarely get 'flu.)
My point is, however, that even in a 'fallow year' like 2004-05, almost 2,000 died of 'flu and no great measures were urged on the churches or anyone else, and there were no headlines. In fact, unless Swine 'flu deaths get up around the several thousand mark, we would surely have to regard it as nothing out of the ordinary - would we not?
13 July 2009
When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may be deleted.