Swine Flu League Table

by Stubborn Mule on 15 June 2009 · 7 comments

The Guardian have been publishing swine flu data on their Data Blog. They are sourcing their data from by the World Health Organisation, the US Centers for Disease Control, country health agencies and press reports, which makes their data the most up to date I have found. One thing missing from their data is a sense of scale for each country. Of course populous countries like the US have had a high number of infections, but this also means that  hidden in the smaller numbers are some fairly significant infection rates in countries with smaller national populations.

So, in a return to a theme started in my Olympic medal tally posts, here are the top 20 swine-flu afflicted countries ranked by lab-confirmed infections per million population (as at 15 June 2009).

Rank Country Confirmed Cases Population Cases per Million
1 Chile 1,694 16,601,707 102
2 Canada 2,978 33,487,208 89
3 Panama 221 3,360,474 66
4 Australia 1,263 21,262,641 59
5 Mexico 5,717 111,211,789 51
6 US 13,217 307,212,123 43
7 Bermuda 2 67,837 29
8 Costa Rica 93 4,253,877 22
9 Cayman Islands 1 49,035 20
10 Dominica 1 72,660 14
11 UK 750 61,113,205 12
12 Honduras 89 7,792,854 11
13 Iceland 3 306,694 10
14 El Salvador 69 7,185,218 10
15 Dominican Rep 91 9,650,054 9
16 Israel 63 7,233,701 9
17 Spain 331 40,525,002 8
18 Barbados 2 284,589 7
19 Hong Kong 49 7,055,071 7
20 Uruguay 24 3,494,382 7

Mexico was the source of the swine flu outbreak, but is now only ranked 5th in infections per capita, while Australia has rocketed to 4th place, largely due to the extensive outbreak in Victoria. As The Guardian continue to update their data, I will monitor the per capita rankings.

UPDATE: The data has been updated and Panama has now fallen to 4th place, which puts Canada in the lead and Australia in 3rd place. I have now uploaded the data to Swivel.

Photo Credit: johnmuk (Creative Commons)

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 tristam smyth June 16, 2009 at 8:26 pm

As someone who was forcebly restrained from attending his workplace on account of a runny nose, I think there are several aspects of this current hysteria that have not been thought out very well:

1) Since when do we start quarantining people for influenza? Isn’t there an outbreak every year? Has quaraniting been tested before? Does it work?

2) Is this just a bunch of Stalinist public health physicians exercising their personal fantasies about people control?

3) Now that avian flu doesn’t look like it’s going to transmit human to human, is everyone promoting the current state of fear desperately trying to prolong their existence in useless government run sinecures?

4) No one seems to be dying much from this H1N1 strain (much more that usual anyway), what is the economic cost of the social control constraints that are being implemented?

5) How many representatives are there on the steering committees that are drumming up the hysteria have received largesse from the makers of Tamiflu

My advice is duck and cover

Tristam

2 Mark L June 18, 2009 at 5:31 pm

Hi Sean,

I share your penchant for league tables expressed in proportion to population — in 2000 I did a similar analysis for the Sydney Olympics for my own interest. There is, of course, always a tension between proportional and absolute measures, with arguments favouring each. In the case of swine flu infections, relative measures seem to make the most sense. For olympic medals, this is less clear.

Interestingly, Roger Penrose has recently been touting “The Penrose Rule” invented by his father, which advocates giving countries voting weights according to the square-root of their populations, in institutions such as the UN. He discussed this idea on the BBC’s The Forum in April, mentioning the statistical justifications for it. One can see this as akin to the role the Cox, Ingersoll & Ross model of option pricing plays in being intermediate between a model of absolute deviations (say Vasicek) and one of proportional changes (like Black’s model).

So it would be interesting to see how these league tables look when expressed relative to the square-root of population.

Cheers,
Mark

3 stubbornmule June 18, 2009 at 5:51 pm

@Mark: the square root idea is fascinating! I’ll look into it and maybe even write a post on the topic. In the meantime, here is a list of the current top six countries ranked by infections/population:

1 Chile
2 Canada
3 Australia
4 Panama
5 US
6 Mexico

and the top six ranked by infections/sqrt(population) with the original ranking by population in brackets:

1 (5) US
2 (2) Canada
3 (6) Mexico
4 (1) Chile
5 (3) Australia
6 (10) UK

I’ll have to think through the significance of the change in ranking.

4 Lisa85856 July 14, 2009 at 5:32 am

Interesting stuff. Did you hear that there’s a new strain which is resistant to the anti-flu drugs? Tamiflu etc? Found a really good website for tracking it’s progress, seems to be updated every hour or so… http://www.swinefludeaths.co.uk.

5 Dr David Hill July 17, 2009 at 7:44 am

The problem is that no one listens including the media. Swine flu if it mutates to something equivalent to the Spanish flu of 1918/1919 (Spanish flu was a swine flu variant) has the same potential to kill humans as it did 90 years ago. The problem is that both swine and avian are constantly mutating into something different. So by the time you have isolated and made a vaccine for the last one, it has changed again and circumvented the old guard and becomes useless. The problem is that this happens all the time and where drugs become irrelevant. The reason, it takes three months to develop an antidote and 6 months to mass produce and distribute it (a logistic nightmare in itself alone) and where on average therefore the vast majority have to wait 9 months for the cure. The problem is that even in slow coach travel times 1918, the Spanish flu which took between 20 and 100 million lives worldwide (there is no authoritive number but where it is estimated between the two), did its deadliest between week 14 and week 26, some 10 weeks at least before the masses would ever receive the drug cure presently. The 1918 killer flu had a very similar circumstance as today, a mild version before the deadly version arrived in the fall of 1918 with a vengeance. The only way that this deadly killer can be stopped therefore, if anyone is listening out there, is through a complete overhaul of modern farming and husbandry methods and to give considerable financial help to those who breed the livestock that we all eat. Basically as a single example, just stop them sleeping with the animals on cold nights in the tropics as this is how the flu virus passes from pig to chicken to man – eventually; and where the pig is the receptive incubator. The philosophy of not letting it happen in the first place. The drugs strategy is futile and it is only a matter of time before the killer strain that will kill literally 100s millions appears. The problem is that the vast profits of drug companies and the government’s ignorance to the real facts will be the nails in all our coffins. The statistics and potential speak for themselves,

World Population 2 billion – 1920
Range of deaths
20mil/2billion = 1 in 100
100mil/2billion = 5 in 100

World Population now at 6.8 billion now equates to,
1 in 100 – 70 million min. today
5 in 100 – 340 million max. today
But, these figures could well be higher, as rapid world transit now makes for faster and wider transmission than in 1918.
I therefore say lets start now as I have been saying for the past three years and defeat this mass killer like no other by field work and not the futile drugs strategy that will do very little indeed to save lives. For presently we are all fooling ourselves.

If we put only £50 billion into this field work globally ( a small price for the human nightmare and financial melt-down that a global equivalent to Spanish flu would bring),we could eradicate the situation but where this £50 billion will no doubt end up alternatively in the pockets of the large pharmaceutical companies with little effect whatsoever. Get real everyone before it is basically too late and I am not joking – force governments to change their strategies from something that is impotent presently to something that will eradicate the problem at source. Common sense really but where currently no one seems to have any.

Worryingly also is the fact that as examples of other problems on the horizon is that the United States makes only 20 percent of its flu vaccines it uses and my country Britain makes zero percent of its flu vaccines, as all its flu vaccines are produced abroad. When a killer pandemic happens it will be hard for the producing countries to release any before their own people are serviced. Little known but true (Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota – 16.07.09).

I have been stopped from putting these comments and facts out by the media before. Let’s hope that minds are fully opened now and that the real solution can be heard and not just the bottom-line for drug companies!

Dr David Hill

6 stubbornmule July 17, 2009 at 11:36 pm

Dr Hill: That makes for some disturbing reading, but at least I can assure you that you won’t be stopped from commenting here on the Mule.

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