CBCradio

Second Wave of Swine Flu? We Aren't Worried

Across Canada, federal, provincial and municipal governments, public health officials and other flu-watchers are preparing almost frantically to tackle what has been widely called a "second wave" of H1N1, aka swine flu.

You may have heard the theory. It goes back to the pandemic of 1918, in which a first wave of flu-like disease in 1918 was followed by a much more widespread and deadly outbreak in 1919-20. Some very credible people are warning that swine flu could go the same way.

Does all that talk scare you? We don't think it should.

Like other nations in the Northern Hemisphere, Canada got its first taste of swine flu starting at the tail end of the usual winter flu season. Sure, there were deaths, especially among some of our remote First Nations communities. Many flu-watchers said the overall impact was mild because swine flu hit during spring and summer, when warm weather discouraged Canadians from congregating indoors. "Wait until the virus attacks us during our winter," they warned.

Well, that's exactly what has taken place in the Southern Hemisphere. Australia and New Zealand are just finishing up their first wintertime experience with swine flu. And what happened?

As of September 16, 2009, Australia has 36,173 confirmed cases of pandemic (H1N1) 2009. There are currently 307 people in hospital, 59 people in Intensive Care Units, and 171 people have died. Out of a population of just under 22 million.

Just for fun, let's do a bit of extrapolation. Canada's population is roughly 33 million, that works out to 54, 260 infected, and 256 deaths. I'm not extrapolating the number in hospital, because I can't give you cumulative figures -- but suffice it to say the average number of Aussies hospitalized at the peak of the outbreak was 400 patients. So, give Canada 600-700 hospitalized at worst.

You call that a Second Wave????? We call it Swinefeld - the flu about nothing.

Check out the stats for yourself. Visit the Health Emergency web site of the Australian Government's Department of Health and Ageing

And listen to more evidence on this week's episode of WCBA -- Saturday, September 19 at 10 am (1030 in Newfoundland), and Monday, September 21 at 1130 am (330 pm in Newfoundland).


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Previous Comments (20)

In Reason Magazine Terry Michael argued that the CDC wastes money in tracking every strain of influenza and that H1N! was devastating to Mexico because Mexicans have weakened immune systems from polluted water and malnutrition (not starvation just a light diet). The media then catches on to a CDC news release about H5N1 in China or H1N1 in Mexico and these are expected to be the next pandemic. 36 000 Americans die of influenza each year and I'm guessing 1/10 of Canadians die of it as well.

There was supposed to be new flu shot that would stop all strains of the flu and will hopefully lead to irradiation of the disease. But till then lets focus on the dangers of the flu in general and not get hung up on one strain.

Brett Knoss, September 18, 2009 11:00 PM

Excellent program on "swine" flu. Particularly the interviews that gave some facts, figures, and reality on the relatively mild nature of the N1H1 flu and the way that its dangers have been grossly exaggerated, with the consequent influx of large amounts of money.

My major interest is climate, specifically the unwarranted scare story that we, the public, are being fed on a daily basis about a coming "climate crisis" in and by the media (including, unfortunately, the CBC). This "crisis" is a creation of dubious computer models, and there is every evidence that the world is headed instead for decades of cooling climate, which will be a disaster for food production and health.

I will look to see if there is a podcast of the WCBA program that can be listened to at any time by the many people around the world who are interested in fighting the "climate change" scam.

Thanks again for a note of sanity. It was indicative of the way so much of our world operates.

Ian L. McQueen
Glenwood, NB

Ian L. McQueen, September 19, 2009 9:35 AM

This is exactly the kind of journalism that Canadians are expecting from our CBC. Canadians need to start asking questions and thinking for themselves and not just accepting what government, corporations, media and experts tell us. Swine Flu reminds me a lot of the economic crisis in the US. Fear is big business. If you make people scared enough they won't mind that you're giving billions away to people that already have billions. I expect that White Coat, Black Art will get a lot of flack for this important show but I hope that this will not dissuade you from tackling tough subjects like this in future.

Thom Oommen, September 19, 2009 9:37 AM

While scientific evidence show that H1N1 may have been blown out of proportion by health units etc, the reality is the general populus doesn't pay attention to science.
If reality turns out worse than predicted, the general populus go on a witch hunt as to who is to blame for not warning them. If things turn out for the better, the health professionals are critised by experts like the guests today.

Dr. Goldman, you can't have your cake and eat it. Hindsight is always 20/20, the cristal ball very blurry!

james Lively, September 19, 2009 12:30 PM

Thanks for this, it was so interesting as I also think it's like 'swinefeld', a lot to do about nothing.

Bert Cole, September 19, 2009 1:40 PM

Bravo, Dr. Goldman! FINALLY a different point of view has been presented by respected health professionals. It is badly needed and I hope it will get very wide coverage. Ideally as wide as all the hype we are now exposed to.

margaret, September 19, 2009 2:09 PM

I am very interested in this broadcast. I unfortunately missed it this morning. When will it be available online? Thanks so much.

Tania, September 19, 2009 2:18 PM

Thanks so much for the refreshingly reassuring rational alternative perspective on H1N1. The fear-mongering is terribly oppressive. It forces self-censorship (my tongue bleeds), and creates new opportunities for the control freaks to expand their jurisdictions. You've provided me with a quick reference for those who can't take a breath to listen to moderation. Again, most appreciated.

Laurie Nock, September 19, 2009 5:20 PM

I listened to Dr. Brian Goldman with absolute shock. Dr. Goldman is a position of influence and many people will take his opinions as the gospel truth. I would like Dr. Goldman to consider the possibility that he may be wrong and he has convinced many people not to be immunized for this flu. Surely his ethical sense should tell him this is not the time to second guess all other experts, just to be different.

Lois Donnelly, September 19, 2009 10:15 PM

As a Canadian-born, Australian-trained doctor who is currently working in Australia for the past number of years, I would like to point out that the extrapolation and subsequent analysis of the DHA figures as has been done above is misrepresentative of the Australian/New Zealand experience. 1) The DHA figure do not show the number of additional presentations to ED and GP clinics across the country (estimated to be around 20-40% increase from base levels in most urban jusridictions), nor the increased demand for pathology sevices during the period. Australia's EDs struggled but coped during the outbreak - are Canada's emergency departments prepared to withstand this impending extra load? As for pathology, apparently the pathology services in Quebec and Ontario are unable to cope with the sheer numbers of H1N109 swabs they are getting now... what will it be like in 2-4 months time with the flu season in full swing? How can they hope to contain the spread if they can't provide timely diagnosis of the illness?
2) A small but significant number of those in ICUs across the county were fit and healthy individuals in their 20s or 30s and have required ECMO(cardiopulmonary bypass) up to 2 weeks to survive. In addition, of those on mechanical ventilation, H1N109 patients have tended to required longer time on ventilators and longer times in ICU than the typical severe pneumonia patient. At one point during the outbreak, around 1/5th of all ICU patients in Australia were H1N109 positive.
3) Australian winters are rather mild in comparison, and people don't tend to hunker down as in the northern hemisphere.

Simply, while the virus may turn out to be not be all that lethal in the final analysis, it is nonetheless dangerous and presents a massive challenge in terms of resources to any health system.

CB, September 20, 2009 7:19 AM

Although more and more people are realizing that this flu is not a major problem, vaccine production continues and will hit us very soon and then millions will be vaccinated with useless toxic cocktails to prevent a fantom disease.

And meanwhile creating a new very real problem with toxicity for adults and toxic shock for new-borns and young children. Perhaps it is time to recall the whole drama of the Swine Flu of 1976, it was not that long ago and it followed the exact same scenario as this one. Many people were damaged by the vaccine concocted at the time and... nobody in authority really owned up to causing the problem.

In Ottawa, all homeopaths give out FREE holistic, safe and tried protection against the flu, every year, to those who feel they need protection but want to avoid the danger of a useless flu shot.

Ati Petrov, September 20, 2009 1:59 PM

The show on H1N1 down playing the risks of this flue may be accurate in describing the number of infections but does not adequately speak to the potential seriousness for some of those who do get infected.

I'm a healthy 46 year old husband and father of two and like my doctor didn't really worry much about this flue. So when I developed flue in late June I figured it would just pass.

A few days In It was worse so I went to my doctor who gave me antibiotics and sent me home. I end up gong for different script the next day when the first set didn’t agree with me. The doctor did chest x-ray and noted I had some pneumonia starting.

Two more days at home were uneventful but by the third night my cough had gotten much worse and by morning I was having trouble breathing and having chest pains.

My wife drove to the local rural hospital emergency and they repeated the x-ray and found both lungs now full of pneumonia and my O2 stats dangerously low The show on H1N1 down playing the risks of this flue may be accurate in describing the number of infections but does not adequately speak to the potential seriousness for some of those who do get infected.

I'm a healthy 46 year old husband and father of two and like my doctor didn't really worry much about this flue. So when I developed flue in late June I figured it would just pass.

A few days In It was worse so I went to my doctor who gave me antibiotics and sent me home. I end up gong for different script the next day when the first set didn’t agree with me. The doctor did chest x-ray and noted I had some pneumonia starting.

Two more days at home were uneventful but by the third night my cough had gotten much worse and by morning I was having trouble breathing and having chest pains.

My wife drove to the local rural hospital emergency and they repeated the x-ray and found both lungs now full of pneumonia and my O2 stats dangerously low

I remained in the induced coma for 2 weeks on respirator and at one point had 13 iv’s running. In the first few days I suffered a heart attack and major organ failure and kidney shutdown requiring dialysis 3 times. For the first few days they could not tell my wife if I would live.

Once stable it took another week before I started to improve, two weeks before they were able to bring me out of the coma. In all I spent 5 week in hospital and another month recovering at home.

I had caught H1N1 and developed a secondary pneumonia in both lungs. I also went form being very healthy to nearly dying in just over 7 days!!

While it may only be some people who get this sick it is critical that patients and doctors very carefully and closely monitor anyone who does get sick with this flue because it can go from a benign infection to life threatening illness very quickly, as it did in my case. I nearly died and would have left behind two teen age children and a wife.

Most of the story I only learned later after they woke me in ICU in the third week.

So the message should be don’t panic but if you have the flue be very careful and you need to be proactive with your doctor if things get worse.

You should also let people know what are the signs and symptoms indicating that your condition may be getting serious or life threatening. I didn’t know, and it nearly cost me my life.

ken, September 20, 2009 2:41 PM

Dr.Goldman, THANK YOU. It is refreshing to hear a story that presents a fair assessment on the swine flu subject.
As an ER nurse, I can tell you it is SHOCKING to see the amount of misinformation out there. The fear campaign used in the media is instilling a hysteria that is spilling over into emergency rooms. Volume of patients have multiplied, wait times have gone up and patient tempers have grown shorter since the words ‘swineflu’ and ‘pandemic’ both hit the media. In schools, teachers are sending a sneezing student home or to the hospital, at daycares, daycare workers are sending children with fevers home or to the emergency room, workforce personnel are being told to take a sick day or to go to their local emergency room. Last week, as I was working the triage station, patients were coming into the ER saying they were afraid to eat bacon, afraid to frequent their local Mexicali rosa's, afraid to sit on the city bus next to a 'Mexican looking gentleman', sinus congestion and dry cough, without the slightest flu like symptom (no fever, no myalgia, no dyspnea, no fatigue) yup just a dry cough, was a reason to make a trip to the emergency room. The public’s reaction is completely disproportionate to the problem. The WHO has declared the swine flu a level 5 outbreak and I would not be surprised if it reaches level 6 which is a pandemic. People have already been talking about this word, and it instantly causes fear and panic. The word pandemic simply means a new virus that is passed person to person and is in more than one geographic location, no where in the definition does it mention large mortality rates! Yes, people have and will likely continue to die from the virus, however 4,000 people in Canada and 18,0000 people in the US died last year from the regular flu, I'd be willing to bet most people haven't heard those shocking numbers on the evening news!
Patients are clamoring for a vaccine without doing the slightest research on the subject on their own. I for one, have my doubts that a vaccine that a) has been furiously fast tracked, and thus b) that has had a limited clinical trial period is a safe one to ‘recommend’.

Yours is the FIRST news story I heard that presented a fair picture on the matter. And for that, dear Dr. I salute you.

From: Stephane, an RN

Stephanie RN, Gatineau Emergency Department, September 21, 2009 12:52 AM

I suggest you do a similar job on the global warming/climate change issue next - here is your program description for the flu with key words replaced:

We've heard a LOT about the global warming crisis in recent years.
Experts are predicting a deadly wave of the climate related disasters.
Accordingly, Canadian environmental officials are scrambling to put plans in place to handle the expected climate crisis. It's costing us billions of dollars. But not everyone believes it's necessary. This week, we ask the question: could this be a crisis about nothing?

Tom Harris, September 21, 2009 1:22 AM

Thank you, Dr. Goldman and team.

The deliberately fostered panic about the alleged Swine Flu is a tragedy in so many ways. If just half the money being committed to this cause was redirected to anti smoking aids, safe driving programs or eradicating medical malpractise/errors (all of which kill far more people every year in Canada than H1N1 will in the next century), Health Canada would have truly achieved something.

The sad fact is, the banter about this strain of flu is about nothing but profit (for drug & equipment companies) and funding (for health agencies, research labs and other institutions). We could save more lives by spending a small portion of this money on standard hygiene programs.

First do no harm, indeed.

John Bladen, September 21, 2009 2:05 PM

Guys I meant to say 1/10th as many Canadians will die of influenza not 1/10 th. That would be really bad.

Brett Knoss, September 21, 2009 4:57 PM

I disagree John. I don't think that drug companies have profited from this strain more than any other, I do agree that this was used by agencies such as the CDC in the states and similar agencies in Canada for more funding but I thin what is really driving this is bureaucracy.

I don't know if the money would have been better in anti-tobacco, safe driving or similar bureaucratically run programs but there is another option: tax cuts. If funding were simply cut taxes could be cut and there would be money to invest in drug companies, invest in genetics, invest in hospitals (where private ownership is allowed), even invest in areas which have nothing to do with healthcare like robotics, computers, construction, food industry, auto industry. Pretty much any investment by the private economy would help healthcare more then tracking every flu strain.

Brett Knoss, September 21, 2009 11:59 PM

Great show!!! Should be repeated and repeated and repeated.

Hosts of CBC shows such as CBC's Ottawa Morning should be asked to listen to it. The phrase used on this show today was, "When the city is in the grip of the pandemic". Someone has been reading too many Marvel Comics.

Good work!

Linda Mosquin

Linda Mosquin, September 22, 2009 7:39 AM

Thank you DR. Goldman, finally someone that will speak out for the people!! I am so tired to hear all of this talk on the SWINE FLU....yes I do understand there is concern, espically after reading Ken's post, and Ken I am so glad that you are feeling better :)!!

I do believe this is not as bad as the WHO and media is making it out to be...they are just trying to scare the people of the world into taking their not so studied and researched vaccine!!! People please do some reseach on the vaccine before you say yes, and then and only then make your minds up..ther is other ways of protecting yourselves from the flu, do some research on it!! Take care and be safe..again thank you Dr. Goldman!!

Jayme, October 10, 2009 8:33 AM

It’s quite ironic that being the chief medical officer he is, Brian Goldman should judge
how insignificant the 2009 swine flu is, given his statement that “Sure, there were deaths,
especially among some of our remote First Nations communities” (Goldman, 2009). All I
can do is shake my head. Whoever he is writing to, it obviously isn’t the families of those
First Nations people who were most affected. Being so close to the issues that he is, his
inferences draw from data taken from Australia and New Zealand. What it really comes
down to is how prepared you are, not how many people got sick in New Zealand; and
now that we have the vaccine, I don’t see how anyone could possibly agree with him that
Canada’s flu season will be the same as the Australians.

First Nations Activist, October 25, 2009 11:57 PM
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