The 2009 H1N1 Pandemic: A New Flu Virus Emerges
The (H1N1)pdm09 virus was very different from H1N1 viruses that were circulating at the time of the pandemic. Few young people had any existing immunity (as detected by antibody response) to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus, but nearly one-third of people over 60 years old had antibodies against this virus, likely from exposure to an older H1N1 virus earlier in their lives. Since the (H1N1)pdm09 virus was very different from circulating H1N1 viruses, vaccination with seasonal flu vaccines offered little cross-protection against (H1N1)pdm09 virus infection. While a monovalent (H1N1)pdm09 vaccine was produced, it was not available in large quantities until late November—after the peak of illness during the second wave had come and gone in the United States. From April 12, 2009 to April 10, 2010, CDC estimated there were 60.8 million cases (range: 43.3-89.3 million), 274,304 hospitalizations (range: 195,086-402,719), and 12,469 deaths (range: 8868-18,306) in the United States due to the (H1N1)pdm09 virus.
Additionally, CDC estimated that 151,700-575,400 people worldwide died from (H1N1)pdm09 virus infection during the first year the virus circulated. Globally, 80 percent of (H1N1)pdm09 virus-related deaths were estimated to have occurred in people younger than 65 years of age. This differs greatly from typical seasonal influenza epidemics, during which about 70 percent to 90 percent of deaths are estimated to occur in people 65 years and older.
In a span of approximately 90 days, 18,634 people have died worldwide from COVID-19. If we multiply that number by a factor of 4 to match the time frame for the swine flu, we see a much lower number of deaths from the current pandemic. So why all of the panic and government action to stop the current spread of this disease?
- There is no vaccine for HB-19 and there will not be one for several months at the earliest.
- There is no pre-existing immunity in the population but there was some immunity in the older generations for swine flu.
- The R0 value for swine flu was 1.4-1.6. Preliminary studies have estimated an R0 value for the new coronavirus to be between 2 and 3, according to the JAMA review study published Feb. 28.
- No one believes that China and Iran are accurately reporting the number of cases and deaths. The reports from China indicate a much larger number of dead than reported. Satellite photos show mass graves being constructed in Iran. Both of these are great fuel to inspire fear.
While the above information does not constitute enough to warrant the actions taken across the world, we have to ask why approximately 38% of the world’s population is under some type of lockdown to prevent the spread of this contagion. For me the answer was and still is exponential growth. Other concerns are the antibody dependent enhancement of this virus when a secondary infection occurs and the high probability for a mutation. The symptoms expressed in the Louisiana outbreak seem to indicate a mutation which involves blood in the lungs causing red foaming at the mouth. It also seems to impact younger people more than the regular S and L strains.
But the bottom line is simple: there are two sides in this issue which is a major cause of division (at least in this country). One side considers COVID-19 to be a major threat to our people, economy and medical infrastructure. The other side considers this to be comparable to the H1N1 swine flu epidemic here and/or a means to infringe upon our liberty. Fortunately for this particular issue, we will know shortly how this disease will impact our lives in both the short and long term.
I will say something that we should consider. When our focus is directed exclusively on one topic, something else is being manipulated or manufactured. In this case, it appears that Iran may be that issue which may involve the next war. I pray that we use this time wisely and determine what is really important in our lives.