Swine flu numbers challenged by scientist

New research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) casts doubt on the Government's claim that swine flu cases have now peaked.

Data from an online survey found that 40 per cent fewer people with flu-like symptoms have consulted their GP since the introduction of the National Flu Service just over a week ago. This suggests the reported decline in the number of new cases may be skewed by the fact that many sufferers are now calling the flu line rather than their GP.

However, there is some uncertainty what the official figures are based on. Sheila Bird, of the Royal Statistical Society, said: "Three months after H1N1 first emerged, it's still not clear how the Health Protection Agency reaches its headline figures; this is completely unsatisfactory. "

A Department of Health spokesman said: "Every week we quality-assure our statistics and publish them in a clear format, which the Royal Statistical Society has welcomed. The downturn started even before the National Pandemic Flu Service was switched on, so the decrease does not only reflect the fact that people are now going to the service rather than their GP."

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