Monday, April 27, 2009

20 million dead might not be the bad news

Republicans have been holding up the confirmation of the Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius putting a big hole in the Health Crisis team in for the United States. Not only are they holding up her nomination but the other senior positions in the Dept. as well, including the Director of the CDC. Their rationale is that the nominees are not "pro-life" enough.

Mexico appears to be experiencing a 7% death rate from the new Super Swine Flu. If true, this is three times the death rate experienced during the 1918 Flu Pandemic in the US and 70 times the typical 0.1% death rate most years. Typically the Flu kills 30,000 Americans each year. If this does to come to pass you could be looking at between 10 and 20 million US deaths assuming the mortality rate does not exceed past experience here. There were areas in 1918 that experienced a 20% death rate and some towns that were virtually wiped out.

This is not the really bad news; normally the Flu kills mostly the very weak; people near the end of life either from age or other illness. This type of Flu kills almost exclusively people under 60 with half being between 20 and 40 since it is an allergic-like overactive immune response that causes pneumonia killing the victim.

Not only have the Republicans held up the Obama Adm. from filling critical health jobs but they capped off their death wish for America by stripping out funding for Pandemic Readiness from the Stimulus Bill. They ridiculed the connection between preparing for a major health crisis and the health of the economy. If the worst happens and 20 million healthy Americans die in the prime of life as this plays out over the next two years you can forget about the health of the economy.