Widespread Panic

Despite its status as a public health emergency, is the swine flu just another flu?

OK, so maybe the pandemic swine flu, the public health emergency declared by the US Government, the bug that’s supposed to wipe out a large percentage of the planet, won’t be so bad after all. First came last week’s Australian report that a new swine flue vaccine actually works—and better still, we won’t need two shots, as some had earlier thought: “A single dose of the vaccine produced a robust immune response in a majority of subjects.”

Now others are taking a strangely common sense approach to the strangely appealing apocalyptic freakout of the human race being wiped out by a pandemic meant for pigs. Take STRATFOR, the global intelligence company based in Austin that has been around since 1996, analyzing everything from the kookiness of the military government in Madagascar to the riskiness of spring break in Cancun. On its Web site, above reports on Iran, Russia, and “The Militant Threat to Hotels,” STRATFOR has a story titled, “A( H1N1): Just Another Flu.” A( H1N1), of course, is just another name for the swine flu and, the report says, “There is no solid evidence to justify the media hysteria over the danger of A( H1Ni) flu virus.” STRATFOR analyzes reports from the CDC and WHO, which note that the swine flu is not as deadly or even as achy as the regular old flu, which kills about 36,000 people in the US every year. “If you take only one fact away from this analysis,” writes STRATFOR,

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