Thursday, April 30, 2009

Biden: Blahblahblahblahblah

Posted By on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 at 12:59 PM

The White House is scrambling to clarify Vice President Biden's verbal diarrhea on NBC's "Today" show this morning, stirring swine flu mania.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Thursday he would tell his family to stay off planes or subways to avoid swine flu, prompting his office to go into damage control and the travel industry to complain.

Asked on NBC's "Today" show what he would tell members of his family if they asked him whether they should get on a commercial airliner to Mexico in the next week, Biden said:

"I would tell members of my family -- and I have -- I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now."

He said the problem is that "when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft."

Read the rest of this Reuters article here.

Again, swine flu is something to take seriously, but put it in perspective: At the moment, 109 people in the United States have swine flu and the only death was a child (yes; tragic) from Mexico who likely contracted the disease from his or her father.

It's estimated there are more than 304 million people in the States. That means 0.000036 percent of the population has swine flu. Zero point zero zero zero zero three six.

If the news is freaking you out about swine flu, here's a tip: turn it off.

If you look no further than the latest headlines, you might think a worldwide flu pandemic was already underway with a very real threat to millions of lives.

While there are many unanswered questions early on in the outbreak of flu from Mexico, it is crucial to remember that the number of deaths and reported infections remain small -- even if its spread across the globe has proved worryingly rapid.

While the infected need access to medical care and anti-viral drugs, the rest of the world needs an inoculation against scary statistics and misinformation.

However, influenza is a big killer every year, with or without a pandemic.

WHO estimates flu kills upward of 250,000 to 500,000 people year after year. "Normal" flu epidemics infect 3 to 5 million a year. Statistics are complicated by inconsistent reporting. Flu often leads to other ailments that end up being listed as the ultimate cause of death.

Flu's typical victims are the elderly, the infirm or the young. The difference with swine flu outbreak in Mexico is that otherwise healthy adults aged 20-50 are vulnerable.

Read the rest of this Guardian article here.

Here's some swine flu propaganda from the 1970s:

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