'Lucky break' as UK swine flu spread slows

The UK may be experiencing a "lucky break" as the rate of swine flu spread slows, the chief medical officer said today.

Sir Liam Donaldson said the second wave of the flu pandemic was well under way but current figures suggest the expected peak could be lower than previously thought.

Estimates show there were 18,000 new cases of swine flu in England in the last week, up from 14,000 in the previous week and 9,000 the week before that.

The rate of increase is nowhere near the weekly doubling experts feared.

Sir Liam said: "We are well into the second wave of pandemic flu, having had the first wave in July but it's proving so far to be a slow burner.

"It's possible that it might peak at a lower level and an earlier level than expected which would be incredibly positive news.

"It means we could get the vaccine programme well under way.

"If this virus has another peak or third up its sleeve as in 1968 we might be able to avert that completely."

He said viewing past pandemics through 20th century eyes the number of cases could be viewed purely in terms of statistics.

However looking at the current pandemic through 21st century eyes "every death is a person not a statistic and we should be fighting it all the way", he said.

Sir Liam added: "We may have got a lucky break in how the virus has behaved at the start of our flu season and we may be able to get the vaccine out there before our flu season really gets under way.

"I'm looking at it very optimistically."

The Government is still awaiting deliveries of the GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) vaccine but it is hopeful that the first doses will be given to priority groups and frontline health workers at the end of the month.

Sir Liam said around half a million doses of the Baxter vaccine were in stock and no GSK had arrived yet but it was "imminent".

Asked why the rate of increase in the number of swine flu cases may be slowing down, Sir Liam said there may be herd immunity among over 65s from a 1950s strain of the flu.

Schoolchildren may also have a degree of immunity against the current strain due to exposure, he added.

The UK number of deaths linked to swine flu currently stands at 90, with 76 in England, one in Wales, 10 in Scotland and three in Northern Ireland.

There are currently 290 people in hospital in England, of which 47 are in intensive care.

Sir Liam said the number of people in intensive care was the highest figure for the last two months.

He said this was a "bit of a concern".

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

    £7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

    Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

    £27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

    Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'