Up to 65,000 Swine Flu Deaths possible for Britain

by Paul Martin -

If the fast spread of H1N1 isn’t enough, the latest calculations by Britain’s Department of Health show that swine flu could result in 65,000 deaths in Britain.

Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, said that the scenario of 65,000 deaths was based on 30 per cent of the population – around 18 million people – becoming ill. But the actual figure could be anywhere between 3,000 and 750,000 fatalities, he added.

The planning model given to the NHS shows that deaths could range from 19,000 to 65,000 if 30 per cent of the population were to become infected. It says that the NHS should prepare for as much as 12 per cent of the workforce to be off sick. However, the document emphasises that its figures are based on a “reasonable worst-case scenario for planning purposes” and are not a prediction. There is a chance the spread of the virus could slow during the summer holidays, peaking in October after children go back to school, it says.Sir Liam said the aim of the new flu service was to alleviate pressure on hospitals and GP services, enabling them to look after the “most seriously ill”. The Government was trusting the public not to abuse the service.

People will be given a diagnosis over the telephone or can get one by following an internet questionnaire. A “flu friend” can then obtain the antiviral drug from one of the depots around the country using the reference number given. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales have not yet set up such a service but could do so if the pressure on their health services continues to rise.

The Health Protection Agency said that its estimate of 55,000 new cases of swine flu in England in the past week includes people visiting GPs and those who are looking after themselves at home. Up to 85,000 people could be currently affected.

Sir Liam said the first vaccine deliveries next month would not be enough for everybody at high risk but sufficient would be available as winter approached.

What does this mean for the rest of the world?

-via Times Online

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