Are we really in a pandemic?

While the news that flu clinics across the country have been swamped has been going on for several weeks, this does concern me. The reason being that the term pandemic is being thrown around rather loosely and causing Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD).

The Free Dictionary defines the medical term pandemic as an:
Epidemic over a wide geographic area and affecting a large proportion of the population

In fact, if you check the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website, these sentences will show up on the facts about H1N1 page:
The majority of people who contract the virus experience the milder disease and recover without antiviral treatment or medical care. Of the more serious cases, more than half of hospitalised people had underlying health conditions or weak immune systems.

So the question is, why is the majority of the population getting vaccinated when their bodies would deal with it like seasonal flu? It is only those already with health complications or weak immune systems that need to worry and hence get vaccinated. This is no different for the seasonal flu.

Nothing drives the point home about the misuse of the term pandemic better than an info graphic generated by taking statistics from these two sites:

Swine Flu Mortality

More serious problems than swine flu

This headline sums it up: Seasonal flu killing more people than swine flu. So why is seasonal flu not classified as a pandemic? At last count 6972 deaths have been attributed to Swine Flu worldwide. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that there will be 36,000 death from seasonal flu in the USA alone. Seasonal flu is not considered a pandemic, so why is swine flu being given this disproportionate coverage? Insert your conspiracy theory here.

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