Is H1N1 the New SARS?

H1N1 Graphic

By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

So, we were sitting around comparing swine flu and SARS the other day. (Yes, we do these sorts things here at Pixels & Pills HQ. In between sharing Perez Hilton updates and seeing who can tie Mike’s laces together without him noticing. It’s a hard life.) Seriously, though. Why does it seem as if SARS coverage disappeared pretty quickly, but H1N1 is continuing to capture the public consciousness?

  • Does it just seem that way because SARS was a few years ago and so it’s faded from memory?
  • Is it because there have been more H1N1 cases than SARS cases?
  • Is it a vast right-wing conspiracy?

This may shock you, but we don’t always have all the answers here at P&PHQ. (Either for celebrity gossip OR for healthcare.) So we decided to poke around a bit and see what we could learn. And then we thought we’d tell you, in case you were curious too.

Something interesting to remember is the way that SARS hashelped the global health community prepare for H1N1, in that it was the first pandemic of the new century. Digital technology allowed the governments and health agencies of the world to share information to a degree and a rapidity never before known.

It’s not just those official bodies are doing that, either. Here are:

But it’sthis infographic from the WHO seems to have the definitive answer to our first question.H1N1 has affected over 50 times as many people and caused almost eight times as many deaths as SARS.

From the data, you can also tell that many more countries have been affected (obviously, given the numbers).

More mortality, more cases, more nations – no wonder there’s more conversation. It’s been immensely instructive to get our heads around these facts and data points.

But we also realized that we were just glad we could find the answer. Think if that question had been posed ten years ago. No civilian would have had access to that kind of information – at least not without massive amounts of legwork and research.

We’re so immersed in the ins and outs of digital technology every day that we take it for granted. But it’s worth remembering, not to sound too dramatic, that we really are part of a frontier.

What we do is making it possible for people to have access to more information than ever before. And specifically, for what we do here, to have that much more information about their health. You can’t get much more important, can you?

Sometimes when you ask a question and go looking for the answer, you get more answers than the one you wanted. We’re glad we asked, because this was a reminder worth having.

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One Response to Is H1N1 the New SARS?

  1. schlingel says:

    What the WHO infographic really tells us is:
    -Bird flu had a mortality rate of about 50%
    -SARS hat a mortality rate of about 10%
    -The mortality rate of swine flu is less than one percent

    So, the probability of getting infected with swine flu is higher but the probability of dying (what is the more drastic outcome) is way lower than with all the other influenzas.
    You can’t just compare the death rates because you don’t simply die without being infected. And as soon as you are infected the risk of dying is dramatically lower with swine flu.