Researchers at the centers for Disease Control and Prevention are recalculating the number of people who have died from pandemic H1N1 influenza and its complications and are expected to announce next week that the total is more than 4,000, not the 1,200 figure that is currently used, according to the New York Times.
The new estimate, which actually will be a range of deaths, will be calculated to reflect the number of deaths that are actually triggered by swine flu, even though the ultimate cause of death may be bacterial pneumonia, other infections or organ failure. The calculation method is the same that is used to produce the 35,000 figure that is associated with deaths in a typical flu season, and the recalculation is meant to give a more direct comparability to that number.
The new figure does not mean that swine flu is more severe than researchers previously thought -- simply that they are producing a more realistic total for the number of deaths caused by it.
-- Thomas H. Maugh II