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Home Industry News Health experts call for review of swine flu severity

Health experts call for review of swine flu severity

15th July 2009

Health experts have called for more accurate estimates regarding the severity of the swine flu pandemic.

Writing in a report on bmj.com today, health professionals say an assessment of how many deaths might occur over the course of the pandemic is central to healthcare planning over the coming months.

They also say they such an assessment will help to influence decisions on whether to implement social distancing measures such as school closures.

The authors claim that on first sight, the data appears to imply the H1N1 virus is relatively mild, with case fatality ratios standing at around 0.5 per cent.

However, the severity of the virus appears to vary substantially between countries at present.

The researchers, from Imperial College London, analysed the difficulties in assessing the severity of the new virus.

They warn some deaths caused by flu might not be recognised as such, as flu infections can temporarily increase the risk of vascular death, such as heart attacks and strokes.

Dr Tini Garske, lead author of the study, 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.

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