I've been storing up several rant zones for some weeks, mostly to do with Gordon's mouth (my older readers may remember a post about this wierd organ, its behaviour and emissions - I may have to post separately about this). But the levee has burst, and it's burst all over, guess what, SWINE FLU!
First, some facts, as reported by media up to and including the BBC. We're all going to die. (Well, that's true!) Don't come back from Mexico, if you can help it. If you must, wear a blue gag, just like the reporters (That's the ones wearing the accessory, not the ones telling us they're useless, if not worse - and don't under any circs share masks). As of now, confirmed cases in the UK have increased from two to three: that's a 30% increase isn't it? Or is it 50%? Depends how you measure it. And, worst, one of them is in South Devon! That's not on! Mothers are terrified. Schools are closed. The WHO is poised to escalate from level 4 to level 5, because (I have to go into caps here) - A BABY DIED AFTER CROSSING THE MEX-TEX BORDER!!! National boundaries just don't mean nothing anymore.
So. Some real facts. Around 25,000 people died in England and Wales last year from secondary flu-related complications (bronchitis, pneumonia etc.) The Office of National Statistics is quiet about what proportion of flu cases this represents, probably because the numbers are too big to crunch, and it's pretty normal and boring. But let's guess that it's 5%. (That'd give us half a million flu cases, which doesn't sound unbelievable.)
In Mexico, so far, there are somewhere between two and ten thousand suspected cases, and about 160 deaths attributed to the disease. There hasn't been much information about proven causal links or secondary complications - in fact there's been no information whatsoever. But let's be cautious. On the worst case, we are looking at ten per cent fatalities. So this scary new thing is about twice as lethal in Mexico (or, to be precise, a few small ringfenced bits of Mexico) as normal flu is in the UK. Well, I can live with that. And I didn't even get my jab this year.
This media balloon will burst, or more likely deflate slowly, sadly, to the 'other news' columns on page 7, just like CJD, foot'n'mouth, SARS, avian flu ... If I'm wrong, sorry - I don't think I was the one who sneezed over you.
Meanwhile, just don't snog no wetback hogs.
Acknowledgment to Simon Jenkins of the Guardian for a serious article which triggered these facetious thoughts.