I don't know how bad it's going to be. Yeah, this isn't 1918. We have ventilators, and anti-viral drugs, and intensive care of a sort they didn't, and faster communication between nations. But we also have rapid world-wide travel, which 1918 didn't. Mexico's problem is New York's problem and California's problem within days.
I've also been hearing stuff on the news about how bird flu was over-hyped and SARS was over-hyped, so swine flu is probably also being over-hyped, and we don't really need to worry. This idiot, for example. I just heard the same thing from the CNBC hosts.
That's dangerous, ignorant bullshit. Yes, bird flu was over-hyped. It never showed any disposition to spread to humans unless you raised chickens in your living room. I've never worried much about bird flu.
But SARS was not over-hyped. We came horrifyingly close to a world-wide catastrophe during the SARS episode. It was the Cuban Missile Crisis of infectious disease, and it seems that hardly anyone realizes it. SARS was essentially a mutated version of one of the common cold viruses. It spread like colds spread, and in the winter, in the Northern Hemisphere, every other person gets a cold. It had a mortality rate of 10-20%, which is getting close to Black Death levels. If SARS had gotten loose, a billion people would have died, and human civilization itself would have stumbled.
SARS didn't get loose, because of smart, fast, ruthless doctors and public health officials in Hong Kong, Vietnam, elsewhere in SE Asia, and Toronto, and wherever a case cropped up. Draconian quarantines and travel restrictions were established. Man, did I hear people whine about that. Those whiners are alive today because public health officials ignored them and did what was necessary. It all worked. I was surprised, but greatly relieved.
How bad H1N1 Swine Flu is going to be? Even at its worst, not as bad as SARS. For one thing, the two standard antivirals against influenza seem to work against it. (Until worldwide stocks run out, that is.) Plus, the reported mortality rate from Mexico isn't anything close to the SARS mortality rate. So even at worst, it's doubtful Swine Flu will kill a billion people. Maybe only a couple of million. Or tens of millions.
Or maybe only a few hundred, IF WE TAKE IT SERIOUSLY, YOU BRAINLESS PUNDITS. Grrrrrr.