I’ve been thinking about how we map the progress of the pandemic here. The Department of Health and Ageing’s daily confirmed cases are good – but we all assume they understate the true number of Swine Flu cases out there by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude. Why? Because the overwhelming number of people who get Swine Flu are not being tested and so never show up on the figures.
So, the risk with these figures is that we may get a fall off in daily new cases and therefore think we have hit the peak of the pandemic, when in fact all that has happened is that testing protocols have been changed.
In other words, we need measures that are not so affected by human decisions. One of those measures, I think, is the number of people dying with Swine Flu each day in Australia. That’s a number that is not going to be affected by decisions on testing, I assume. (If you’re that sick, they’ll test you. The only issue here is that in a normal flu season they might not test you, and simply put down your cause of death as pneumonia, but in a pandemic, my guess is that they will test). So, if we see this measure peak and start to fall sustainably, we can be pretty sure we’re over the hump of the pandemic and coming down the other side.
So, I’ve graphed the seven day moving average of daily deaths of people with Swine Flu in Australia. Note, I’ve said deaths of people with Swine Flu, not because of Swine Flu. These people have died and they had Swine Flu at the time – but that doesn’t tell us that it was Swine Flu that was responsible.
Anyway – here’s the graph. And as you can see, at the moment, on average, 3.7 people are dying each day in Australia with Swine Flu. That’s the highest it’s been since the start of the pandemic here, and it is showing no sign that we have reached the peak yet. Remember that you can click on this graph to blow it up.
I’ve also updated my usual two graphs with the latest figures from the Department of Health and Ageing. Here they are (clicking on these graphs will blow them up):