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UK H1N1 ICU Cases Spike To 460
Recombinomics Commentary 14:40
December 24, 2010

The number of people in intensive care with confirmed or suspected flu in England has risen to 460 - more than double what it was a week ago.

Statistics released by the Department of Health (DoH) on December 15 showed 182 people were receiving intensive treatment for flu.

As of today, there were 460 patients receiving the same level of care.
It comes as medical experts admit the 24 lives claimed by the swine strain could be a fraction of the true death toll.

The above update describes an alarming jump in severe H1N1 cases. 

On Monday the number was 302, which was markedly higher than the peak level of 180 last season.  These numbers signal a significant change in H1N1 virulence.  Recent released sequences by the Health Protection Agency reveal recombination between H1N1 circulating in Australia over the summer.  Australia is now also reporting a rise in cases, although the flu season has ended in the southern hemisphere.

The numbers in the UK are likely to increase due to extreme weather and traditional travel and gatherings during the holiday season.

Vaccination risks remain low and agency reports continue to downplay the severity of the crisis.  H1N1 is a swine virus that has jumped species, and small genetic changes can have dramatic effects on severity and associated fatality rates.

These new numbers will overwhelm ECMO capacity and create a triage system leading to unnecessary deaths.

An update of sequences from the severe and fatal cases would be useful.

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