*sniff* Uh-oh, looks like I’m going to die
Every time I turn around I hear something about swine flu and how we’re not prepared. It’s on the news every night showing lines for the newly released vaccine and how everybody should be shot up with it. Can we move on now? The vaccine is out, we’re all safe, right? Or is the media going to milk this one for all it’s worth? Probably the latter. Remember the avian flu, or SARS as it was known? I remember seeing people walking down the street looking like they just performed surgery.
All that because the media decided we were all going to die. I know, fear gets ratings. But has our society decided that fact-checking the nightly news was no longer necessary? Dan Rather got the shaft for forgetting to verify a story on Bush that he ran with. But then again, nobody made any money off that one. (More about that later) Do you know how many people in the U.S. ended up dying from SARS? I’ll give you a minute to think about that.
What’s your answer? 500? 1000? Nope. The answer is a big fat zero. So it’s hard for me to believe that a virus such as swine flu that has affected roughly 1 in 70,000 Americans is worth fretting over.
Of course, that is just my opinion. Feel free to panic if you would like. But let’s look at some facts here.
Swine flu vs. the flu
So far this year, H1N1 has affected 5,011 people and 304 people have reportedly died from it. Sounds kind of bad I guess.
But what about non-swine flu? Well, according to the CDC, the flu we don’t seem to be at all that worried about has hospitalized 38,451 people and killed 3,446 people IN THE LAST 3 MONTHS. That’s right. At the current rate, that regular old flu bug will kill 40 times the amount of people as H1N1 this year.
Swine flu vs. actual pandemics
Now, let’s compare the H1N1 “pandemic” to others through the course of history. The black plague killed 25 million people. The Spanish Flu killed between 40 and a 100 million, depending on the source. Enough said.
Let the conspiracy theories begin
Drug companies already have gobs of cash, but their always happy to rake more in. So who profits from H1N1? Well, let’s see: The biggest winner so far is Alpha Pro Tech. Their profits have increased 65% thanks to a surge in sales of their N-95 respirator mask. Johnson & Johnson has seen their income off Purell double. And all those people who are lining up for shots? They’re getting vaccines supplied by Norvartis. Their stock hasn’t moved a lot lately, but most analysts have coincidentally moved it to a buy or outperform rating. It’s inevitably going up, up, and away.
It’s very similar to what happened with SARS several years ago. President Bush ordered so much vaccine to stockpile, the stock price of the providing drug company Gilead Sciences soared. (Fun fact: Donald Rumsfeld was once the chairman of that company and still had quite a bit of stock at the time. He profited at least $5 million from it. Feel free to discuss among yourselves)
The verdict: When the bodies start piling up in the streets, call me. Until then, I’ll take my chances.