‘Swine flu toll may be 15 times more than reported’

The actual number of people who died due to swine flu across the world is 15 times the reported number, according to a new study published on Tuesday in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Between April 2009 and August 2010, 18,500 laboratory-confirmed deaths caused by the 2009 pandemic influenza A H1N1 were reported worldwide.

The study by researchers from around the world including the All India Institute of Medical Sciences and led by CDC Atlanta used a complicated system of medical analysis to reach a figure of 201,200 deaths because of swine flu in the specified period.

"We estimate that globally there were 201,200 respiratory deaths (range 105700-395600) with an additional 83,300 cardiovascular deaths (46000-179900) associated with 2009 pandemic influenza A H1N1. Eighty per cent of the respiratory and cardiovascular deaths were in people younger than 65 years and 59 per cent occurred in southeast Asia and Africa," the study concluded, adding that a disproportionate number of these deaths are likely to have occurred in the last two regions making it imperative that future efforts at containing the virus should be concentrated there.

The study suggested that 51 per cent of the deaths may have occurred in southeast Asia and Africa, which have about 38 per cent of the world's population, with the highest mortality rates occurring in Africa. "The study underscores the significant human toll of an influenza pandemic," said lead author Dr Fatimah Dawood of the US's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "We hope that this work can be used not only to improve influenza disease burden modelling globally, but to improve the public health response during future pandemic in parts of the world that suffer more deaths, and to increase the public awareness of the importance of influenza prevention."

With PTI inputs

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