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1918 Case Fatality Rates
December 1, 2004
>>"Based on past experience, we don't have to panic," Longini tells WebMD. "It's clear that pandemic flu is inevitable. It is going to happen, and it could be a fairly pathogenic strain and could be a real problem. Right now, H5N1 bird influenza looks like it is fatal in 70% of cases. But this 70% figure is totally absurd. It has never been true of any human flu strain. I have never seen any evidence that human influenza is anywhere near that virulent. Case fatality of even highly virulent strains are a couple of deaths per 10,000 people infected."<<
A review of case fatality estimates for the 1918/19 pandemic is in order. In 1918 the world population was about 1.6 billion. If 1/4 of the world's population was infected with H1N1 pandemic virus, that would be 400,000,000 infections. A case fatality rate of 0.02% would have produced 80,000 deaths. However, most estimates of the number of deaths from the pandemic are in the 20-50 million range, and many studies suggest the number was closer to 100 million. Case fatality rate estimates have ranged from 2.5% for the entire world to 5-33% for selected populations for the 1918 pandemic.