Swine Flu Report: Up to 90,000 U.S. Deaths
The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), in a report released today said, the 2009-H1N1 virus is a serious threat to the US and the world.
PCAST, an independent group of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers, said that a plausible scenario for the impact of the resurgence of 2009-H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu, is between 30-50% of the U.S. population could be infected this fall and winter.
Moreover, according to the report, the epidemic could cause up to 90,000 deaths in the U.S. concentrated among children and young adults. This is in contract to the 30,000–40,000 annual deaths typically associated with seasonal flu in the U.S., mainly among people over 65 years.
The report entitled, “Report to the President on U.S. Preparations for 2009-H1N1 Influenza”, says that the fall resurgence of swine flu may occur as early as September with the beginning of the school term, with the peak of the infection around mid October.
One major concern remains the timing of the vaccine, as significant amounts are projected to be available only in mid-October, with several additional weeks required until vaccinated individuals develop immunity to the virus. Says the report, this potential mis-match in timing, diminishes the usefulness of the vaccination for mitigating the epidemic and could place many at risk of serious disease.
While noting that preparedness for the fall resurgence of virus had been constrained by time and materials, PCAST nonetheless were impressed by the U.S. government’s efforts across the board, suggesting that the response is probably the best effort ever mounted against a pandemic.
The report makes a number of recommendations, as well as, identifies several areas that could be improved. These include: the appointment of a senior White House staff member to support coordination efforts; development of several planning scenarios to assist the federal, state, local and private sector in anticipating the potential “surge” demand, and speeding up of the production of an initial quantity of finished vaccines, as early as mid-September to allow for the vaccination of up to 40 million people.
For the full report, “Report to the President on U.S. Preparations for 2009-H1N1 Influenza“, please click HERE.