Aug 6, 2009


The first death due to swine flu in the country was reported from Pune a couple of days back. Today my son came back from school much earlier than scheduled with a notice from the Principal, that the school would remain closed till 10 Aug. Apparently, a student from the school was suspected to have contracted the 'dreaded virus.'

Rida Sheikh's death was indeed most unfortunate. In its aftermath, the media is giving all and sundry bloody hell. The hospitals, Doctors, government, health care system, etc. But if we put things in the correct perspective here, without sensationalising the whole issue like mainstream media, what do we have.

Govt of India Press release dated 05 Aug reports a total of 162380 cases worldwide with 1154 deaths (0.71%). In India on the day, there were 596 cases with one death (0.17%). It does appear that the India has dealt with the threat quite well. So far at least. I am not for a moment suggesting that the health care system in our country is top notch, but let's be fair, govt needs to get credit for the handling of the pandemic so far.

In Rida's case (God bless her soul), initial diagnosis was probably wrong. Big Deal. Diagnosis was wrong : well here is the sad truth, 'eighty percent of medical profession is guess work', when it comes to diagnosis. So, at times some guesses are bound to be wrong. If all hospitals were to send every person suffering from common cold or cough or mild fever for an H1N1 test, the whole system for screening and testing put in place by the health ministry would simply collapse. (as is happening in Pune, thanks to Arnab Goswami and company).

Lets look at it from a saner perspective. The WHO on Tuesday maintained that roughly two billion people could become infected with the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, Reuters reports. "By the end of a pandemic, anywhere between 15-45 percent of the population will have been infected by the new pandemic virus," Read full report here. And we are talking about world population here.

That means that swine flu would be as common as the common flu. So, with all due respect, Mr Arnab Goswami and company, what is the entire hullabaloo about???????

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