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Government underestimate swine flu

PUBLISHED: 18:36 20 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:19 07 September 2010

THE number of deaths predicted as a result of swine flu has been under-estimated by the Government, scientists at St Mary s Hospital in Paddington have claimed. Researchers from Imperial College claim there needs to be more accurate mapping of the spread

THE number of deaths predicted as a result of swine flu has been under-estimated by the Government, scientists at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington have claimed.

Researchers from Imperial College claim there needs to be more accurate mapping of the spread of the disease to predict how many fatal cases there will be and have already occurred.

According to the study, people dying of swine flu in hospital could have their cause of death listed as something other than the virus.

Flu viruses are known to increase the risk of vascular problems such as heart attack and stroke, for example.

Researchers say an accurate number of deaths is vital to ensure the country is "best prepared to fight the pandemic". Dr Tini Garske, lead author of the study from the MRC Centre for outbreak analysis and modelling at Imperial College, said: "Accurately predicting the severity of this swine flu pandemic is a very tricky business, and our research shows that this can only be achieved if data is collected according to well-designed study protocols and analysed in a more sophisticated way than is frequently being performed at present.

"If we fail to get an accurate prediction of severity, we will not be providing healthcare planners, doctors and nurses, with the information that they need to ensure they are best prepared to fight the pandemic as we head into the flu season this autumn."

Health Secretary Andy Burnham yesterday moved to calm fears raised by the latest swine flu fatalities.

He said the death of one of the latest victims, healthy six-year-old Chloe Buckley was a "tragedy" but stressed that many children had suffered from swine flu and had made a full recovery.

"People do need to keep it in perspective - lots of children have already had swine flu and have made a very quick recovery," he said.

He added that Britain was at the "front of the queue" for supplies of vaccine and would start to receive the first from next month.


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