Study: Swine flu killed 10 times more than previously estimated

The new study has similar findings to a CDC report last year, putting the number of deaths due to the flu and secondary causes at close to 400,000 people worldwide.
Posted By Ananth Baliga  |  Nov. 27, 2013 at 9:21 AM
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Nov. 27 (UPI) -- A new study has put the death toll from the 2009 H1N1 "Swine flu" pandemic at 203,000 people, more than was claimed by the World Health Organization.

The study, published online in PLOS Medicine, shows that the WHO grossly underestimated the deaths related to the pandemic. Incidentally, the new study was funded by the WHO.

While this figure estimates the death due to the flu and respiratory problems, the figure is bumped up to 400,000 if you consider secondary consequences such as heart failure.

These updated numbers are similar to those arrived at last year by the Centers for Disease Control, which estimated 201,200 deaths with an additional 83,000 cardiovascular deaths, with a total estimated range of between 151,700 and 575,400 global deaths resulting from the pandemic.

These figures are nearly 15 times higher than the WHO's figures, which included only laboratory-confirmed cases totaling 18,449.

Lead investigator Dr. Lone Simonsen, an epidemiologist at George Washington University’s School of Public Health, said that she was comforted to see a similarity in her study and the CDC's numbers.

Both studies agreed that most of the deaths were among younger people, typically those below the age of 65. The CDC's study relied on illness rates from 12 countries and mortality rates from only 5 countries, while Simonsen's study extrapolated data from 26 countries and death rates from 21 countries, using nearly 35 percent of the world's population to give an overall global figure.

[PLOS Medicine] [CDC] [New York Times]

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