Swine flu will [enter scare words here]...
...but BT says it won't kill the internet
Several people in the UK have quite possibly got swine flu, but this doesn't necessarily mean the end of civilisation.
Some of you might worry that the epidemic will swiftly carry away your comms services. The 'reasoning' goes something like this: the flu reaches epidemic proportions, offices close as our transport infrastructure shudders to a halt, everyone not at death's door logs in from home and BT's network, and the internet, collapses under the strain.
What happens next will be clear to anyone who's seen 28 Days Later...
But be not afraid, the reality will likely be duller. The internet is good at not falling over, although it might well slow slightly as all those off sick try to watch iPlayer.
BT said: "BT's network is in a strong position to cope with the expected demands in home working."
The busiest time for internet usage in the UK is early on Sunday evening, when average speeds can fall as much as 25 per cent.
A more realistic worry is how well your firm's own infrastructure would cope with most of the staff working from home. And how about if half the IT department were off sick too? Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said at least 12 per cent of staff could be off sick at any one time.
That's assuming they can get to work. Transport for London has tried to reassure people that it was possible for tube trains and buses to continue to function even if some staff did get the sniffles.
But some of its unions were not so enthusiastic, and Bob Crowe of the RMT union warned that his members were more likely than most to catch the disease because they work in close contact with large numbers of people.
Transport for London pointed out that any epidemic which hits their staff would likely also reduce the number of passengers using its network.
Of course flu is nothing to be, umm, sneezed at. It kills about 1,500 people in the UK every winter - but of course that is dull old people flu, not this headline-friendly new flu.
A vaccine is being developed and should be ready by September. It will be given to frontline medical staff and then other groups depending on need - rather like the existing flu jab which goes to the young, the old and the otherwise vulnerable. ®
Gimme a zombie plague.
Lots and lots of guns.
Tux because, wth, why not.
I'm not sure I can be arsed writing this
Oh, it looks like I can...
RE: Greg Flemming
If you want to demonstrate a confused and ill-informed point of view that shows a complete lack of knowledge in the area go right ahead, but please don't try to pass your inane dribbly ramblings as fact. It's not bog standard flu, it's a pandemic variant, if you don't possess the ability to work out what that means, please don't pretend that you do.
I would expect people reading this to be numerate.
Death rate in healthy people from swine flu is clearly under one in 10,000, from the news to date. Maybe a lot under, if there are many people who catch it, go to bed, don't call a doc, get better, goes unreported. The risk of dying per annum from any other cause is 6 in 10,000 for M age 20 and 30 in 10,000 for M age 50. Risk of sudden heart attack death is 3 in 10,000 for M 50.
So this flu should not be high on our worry list, unless you have an underlying health problem that greatly increases your personal risk.
It is VERY infectious, so worst case is one in three of us catching it before the vaccine is universally available, and (sadly) up to 2000 deaths out of 20M cases (60M population). Plus a larger number of deaths amongst the at-risk groups.
If it mutates into something deadlier ... that's the really scary possibility, but no point worrying until it does. Hopefully we'll get a vaccine for the current strain first and it'll give some immunity against related strains.
More interestingly, there's Darwinian competition between any deadly mutant and the current mild strain if the same antibodies work against both. The mild one should win - many people stay on their feet, spreading it around, rather than collapsing and being carted off to a hospital or other isolation facility. A successful parasite is the one that does NOT often kill its host.
If the human race ever runs up against a true 50%+ killer pandemic, the medical action of last resort might be to deliberately create a less deadly strain and to artificially spread that around to out-compete the deadly one. If you want to start a conspiracy theory that this has already happened, go right ahead. (Something less dramatic might indeed have happened naturally - the initial flu outbreak in Mexico looked far worse than the subsequent pandemic strain. But that might also have been massive under-reporting of non-fatal flu because impoverished Mexican peasants can hardly afford to consult a doctor).