Let’s put the swine flu in perspective

The total number of deaths in World War One was 16 million.
The number of deaths as a result of the Spanish flu which followed in 1918 was somewhere between 30 and 80 million.

In the 14th century the Black Death is estimated to have killed 75 million people (including anywhere from 30% to 60% of Europe’s population – including Ireland).

 Which isn’t to say that the current Swine Flu shouldn’t be taken seriously, just that when it comes to risk our ability to be objective tends to go out the window.

The Black Death by Philip Ziegler is a book well worth reading for the historical and in particular the social and political implications of this desease.



  1. Absolutely agree. In the US, 36,000 people died from the old regular “seasonal” flu last year! That is on average just under 100 people EVERY DAY. There has been less than 200 deaths confirmed since the H1N1 swine flu virus was discovered over a month ago. I know that i’m being rather simplistic, especially considering that the H1N1 virus is not as wide spread as the typical seasonal flu, but I don’t think it’s time to panic just yet!

  2. The reason why its getting so much coverage i thought, would be because its unknown how it works and we don’t have a vaccine. The amount of deaths by anything though with modern technology, is significantly decreased (ie they establish containment a lot better and have the ability to inform the public about it) But the scary thing is with all that technology, it still seeps through the cracks which begs the question what would happen if we weren’t so capable.

    Unfortunately coming back to reality people do blow it way out of proportion. http://xkcd.com/574/ i think this sums it up nicely.

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