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WASHINGTON – Two million dead. Hospitals overwhelmed. Schools closed. Swaths of empty seats at baseball stadiums and houses of worship. An economic recovery snuffed out. We're nowhere close to what government planners say would be a worst-case scenario: a global flu pandemic. But government leaders at all levels, and major employers, have spent nearly four years planning for one in series of exercises....
A full-scale pandemic — if it ever comes — could be expected to claim the lives of about 2 percent of those infected, about 2 million Americans.
The government estimates that a pandemic like the 1918 Spanish flu would sicken 90 million Americans, or about 30 percent of the population. Of those, nearly 10 million would have to be admitted to a hospital, and nearly 1.5 million would need intensive care. About 750,000 would need the help of mechanical ventilators to keep breathing.
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration dispatched high-level officials from several agencies Monday to allay concerns about swine flu and to demonstrate that it was fully prepared to confront the outbreak even as the president said there was “not a cause for alarm.”
While experts praised the administration’s initial response, many warned that a more extensive outbreak of swine flu could tax the nation’s public health capabilities.
“If this gets worse, you’ll see the weakness of our system,” said Dr. Jeffrey P. Koplan, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “In an event like this, where everyone’s well-being is dependent on everyone else’s, we will both feel and see the problems our system creates.”
Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, said federal officials reported six years ago that hospitals would need far more beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment to respond to a pandemic. Hospitals never got nearly enough extra equipment, Dr. Redlener said.
“We will pay a very heavy price for this if we get the big one,” he said.
Originally posted by jtma508
Worst case? Well, the only model we have is the 1918 flu pandemic. That one killed ~2.5% of the world's population and sickened ~500M or about 30% of the world's population. With the current world population of 6.7B we could expect perhaps 170M deaths. That, of course, is assuming that it runs similarly to the 1918 pandemic.
The argument could be made that we have muchy better medical infrastructure now and some anti-virals not available in 1918. But countering that is the fact that we also have much, much higher mobility than in 1918. It could spread much farther, much faster.
This outbreak will likely fizzle-out in short order. But we need to be especially on-guard come fall/winter when it could resurface with a nasty, nasty attitude.