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5.4 million swine flu jabs saved six lives: report

Published: 15 Feb 2012 08:47 GMT+01:00

In Sweden, 60 percent of the population was vaccinated against the swine flu in 2009.

A tally carried out by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) after the pandemic had passed found Sweden ended up with a death rate of 0.31 fatalities per 100,000 people.

In Germany, where only eight percent of the population was vaccinated, the fatality figures were the same.

And in Poland, which didn't have any vaccination programme at all, the death rate was only 0.47 per 100,000 , the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reports.

“We concluded that six fatalities were avoided by the mass vaccination programme,” Lisa Brouwers of the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitutet) told the newspaper.

In addition, Sweden has documented 168 cases of vaccine-related side effects, compared to only 29 in Germany.

“I feel stupid. What disappoints me most is that it was important that everyone in Sweden was vaccinated. The problem is that you don't get any sort of help afterwards,” 27-year-old Ida Andersson told the Aftonbladet newswpaper.

Andersson suffers from the sarcoidosis in her lungs, inflammation of the face, and abnormal drowsiness attributed to having been vaccinated against the swine flu.

“I don't know if I'll be sick for the rest of my life or if I'll ever get better,” she said.

So far, no explanation of the results of vaccination programmes in different countries has been carried out yet.

“The ECDC is still investigating and doesn't have any answers yet,” Johan Giesecke, head researcher at the Swedish agency, told SvD.

Sweden's own National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) is also carrying out a review of the swine flu vaccination programme which has yet to be completed.

Lars-Olof Kalling, former head of the Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control, thinks one explanation to the differences between countries may be that the flu was so mild that the vaccinations didn't make much of a difference.

TT/The Local/dl (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

09:17 February 15, 2012 by riose
So, TL, the problem is to vaccine people or Tamiflu for the secondary effects and the politicians for creating a false alarm.

It is a bit ambiguous.... (or tendentious?)
09:29 February 15, 2012 by Kevin Harris
The 1918/19 flu epidemic killed tens of millions. If/when it reappears, it will kill that many again. That particular strain appears about once a century. Do the math. Influenza is the greatest single threat of bringing your happy life to an early and unpleasant close.

Can you see now why the authorities take it seriously?
09:56 February 15, 2012 by Valdemaratterdag
Hindsight is 20/20.

Could you imagine the screaming coming from the citizens of the countries that didn't vaccinate if the mortality rate had been much higher? Break out the pitchfork and torches and march on Warsaw.

Let's cue all the conspiracy theorists that this is all a scam concocted by government to line the pockets of their friends in big Pharma.

The bigger unanswered question is why the Scandinavian countries were affected so greatly by Narcolepsy while the U.S. had no statistically significant increase in the disease.
10:37 February 15, 2012 by Mxzf
Sweden didn't have an option.

Sweden has an obligation to run mass vaccinations on anything flagged as a pandemic. I'm pretty sure lots of higher ups are rather angry at swine flu being flagged as a pandemic as well, because it took away a lot of money that could have been spent on better things. In many countries.

From what I understand it, they - was it WHO? - failed to flag bird flu as a pandemic fast enough - a flu that actually is dangerous. So when swine flu was discovered, the panicked and flagged it too fast.
11:37 February 15, 2012 by jhk
@valdemartterdag my understanding is the the accelerator in the vaccine was the cause of many issues, not the actual vaccine itself. It is used so that less vaccine per dose is needed. In other countries they didn't use an accelerator.

Without appointing blame I think its important that those affected are given help (money) to lead as normal a life as possible. They can't drive cars, get jobs etc etc. Its not charity, but common sense because if we need to mass vaccinate again I think a lot of people will hold off as no safety net exists. The sums of money are tiny compared, try buying one less jas fighter plane for example.
12:49 February 15, 2012 by BillyB
then that is good isnt it?

Lives were saved..I would not want to have been one of the 6
12:58 February 15, 2012 by si
Would like to see a comparison against how many people were killed by the normal flu under the same period - how many of those people were old, already had health complications etc. 6 is a fairly negligible number -This looks like a profit scam - no doubt
13:52 February 15, 2012 by roaringchicken92
@KevinHarris

The 1918/1919 influenza epidemic will never happen again. It was likely caused by World War I, which brought into close quarters millions of people who had rarely strayed more than a couple of miles from home in their lives. You are then far more likely to pick up a strain of something you have never been exposed to and transmit it rapidly. Humanity, through its close interaction with peoples and cultures throughout the world, is now largely inoculated against worldwide pandemics of any sort.

None of our most recent "pandemics" caused more than a couple hundred fatalities, and these were largely confined to poor, unsanitary ares of the world. Officials have their hearts in the right place with these inoculation programmes, but the shots have no more effect than to give jobs to those who prepare the shots. An unfortunate side effect is, of course, that when you inject a disease into somebody (which is what all inoculations involve), the person is far more likely to contract the disease or suffer side effects from the body's immune response to fighting the foreign invader.
15:27 February 15, 2012 by skogsbo
better safe than dead, I think here.

plus how do we know the Poles didn't have another similar virus in greater numbers than say Sweden in the past, so a greater percentage of the population had more natural resistance to the new virus. The data isn't just about pure live or die stats where viruses are concerned.
15:45 February 15, 2012 by RobinHood
@roaringchicken92

The 1918/19 influenza pandemic originated in asia, and killed as aggressively there as it did everywhere else. World war One was not fought in Asia. Its mortality rate was roughly the same everywhere; war or no war. It respected neither class nor geography. It seems every person in the world caught it; some hardly noticed, some felt very ill, some died. It mostly took young men who drowned in the fluid that filled their lungs.

Influenza experts agree, it will eventually return, there is currently no cure, and we should take it very very seriously. You can suit yourself.
17:14 February 15, 2012 by manotick
What the article doesn't say is how much the flu shot program cost. But just saying it cost $100 per shot (for the medicine and healthcare system behind it and excluding the cost to the population at large for their time to take the shot) we are looking at $540 million. It would be interesting to know the real cost and whether that is worth (a) 6 lives saved and (b) 128 people suffering side-effects of which some are very serious.
21:14 February 15, 2012 by calebian22
The flu, big whoop! Stay home, sleep, be well. Pandemic my butt.
07:52 February 16, 2012 by uunbeliever
I bet if your child had been saved you would be thankful. Grow up and be human people.
00:23 December 13, 2012 by Franco Anedda
FYI

The 1918 flu epidemic was probably the greatest disaster of the farmacology: that a big number of the deaths may have been caused not by the virus, but by a drug used to treat it: aspirin.

The Journal of the American Medical Association suggested a dose of 1,000 o 4,000 milligrams every three hours, the equivalent of almost 25 o 100 standard 325-milligram aspirin tablets in 24 hours

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/13/health/13aspirin.html?_r=0
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