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Withheld UK H1N1 Death Data Raises Pandemic Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary 12:00
January 10, 2011

Health bosses have been slammed for trying to keep secret details of swine flu deaths across the region.

MPs and patient groups have blasted the gag which stops local health trusts revealing the number of victims, and the area they are from.
It comes as the region bears the brunt of this winter’s outbreak, with at least 12 deaths in Greater Manchester and Macclesfield, out of 50 nationally.

The above comments increase concerns regarding the withholding of data on fatal H1N1 cases in the UK.  Although the HPA reports have the disclaimer “These cases will not represent all influenza-related deaths.” associted with the latest update on fatalities: “ Up to 5 January 2011, 50 fatal cases have been verified by HPA as related to influenza infection. Of these cases, 45 have been associated with H1N1 (2009) infection and five with influenza B infection", the data is not only being withheld, but is being selectively released.
The total of 50 deaths is not a credible number.  It is below numbers appearing in media reports, which represent a fraction of the total number of actual H1N1 deaths in the UK.  The selective release of data is also seen in reports on underlying conditions.  Initially most of the cases did not have an underlying condition (14/26 as reported in week 51 report).  However, in the week 52 report, only 1 of 12 newly reported cases did not have an underlying condition, and in the latest week 1 report none of the 10 cases did not have an underlying conditions.
Thus, the death cases are being withheld, and the released numbers are almost exclusively from cases with underlying conditions. 

The withholding of information also extends to the sequences released at GISAID by the HPA.  There is genetic clustering in recent severe and fatal H1N1 cases, yet all associated demographic information (age, gender, and location) is also being withheld from the most recent cases with the disclaimer “HPA will not provide patient information that could lead to deductive disclosure or identity”.
Thus, the HPA is not only withholding the actual number of deaths and locations of clinical cases, but it is also withholding demographic data which would localize the cases with concerning genetic changes.
The withholding of death data continues to increase pandemic concerns.

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