How many people got swine flu in America and around the world?

UP TO 575,000 people died of swine flu across the globe during the outbreak in 2009.

Swine flu has come into focus in recent times as it was the world's last pandemic and many experts have made comparisons between that and the coronavirus outbreak.

It's estimated that 80 per cent of the virus-related deaths were estimated to occur in those less than 65 years of age.

In seasonal flu epidemics, 70 to 80 per cent of deaths occur in those over 65.

During the US Vice Presidential (VP) debates last night Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris went toe to toe, debating a range of issues ahead of the November election which will see democrat Joe Biden go up against current republican President, Donald Trump.

Current VP, Mr Pence targeted his predecessor’s record on the swine flu pandemic of 2009.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US estimates that swine flu caused 60.8 million illnesses, 273,304 hospitalisations and 12,469 deaths in the US.

In the UK, the NHS stated that in total there were 28,456 cases of swine flu.

This equated to 19,995 cases in England, 1,355 in Northern Ireland, 6,450 in Scotland and 656 in Wales.

There were 392 deaths from swine flu, with England seeing 279, Northern Ireland, 18, Scotland 67 and Wales 28.

The outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on June 11 2009 and over a year later the WHO declared an end to it on August 10 2010.

The WHO states: "Globally, an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people died from swine flu in the first year of the pandemic."

What is swine flu?

In 2009, the H1N1 virus was first identified in Mexico. 

It became known as swine flu because it’s similar to flu viruses that affect pigs. 

The virus spread rapidly from country to country because it was a new flu that young people weren't immune to. 

However, the outbreak was not as serious as originally predicted because many older people were immune to it. 

According to the NHS website, most cases in the UK were relatively mild although there were some serious cases. 

The relatively small number of cases that led to serious illness or death were mostly in young adults and children with underlying health conditions. 

Last night Mr Pence hit back at comments from the democrats who had claimed the government had "failed citizens" due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Pence said: "When you talk about failure in this administration, we actually do know what failure looks like in a pandemic.

“It was 2009. The swine flu arrived in the United States.

“Thankfully it ended up not being as lethal as coronavirus, but before the end of the year, when Joe Biden was Vice President of the United States, not seven and a half million people contracted the swine flu, 60 million American’s contracted the swine flu.

“If the swine flu had been as lethal as the coronavirus, in 2009 when Joe Biden was Vice President, we would have lost two million American lives.”

The republican party have previously been criticised for its handling of the pandemic.

Mr Pence made the comments after Ms Harris said she would not take a vaccine for the coronavirus if it had been recommended by the President.

The President himself has recently contracted the illness before going back to the White House in Washington in a matter of days.

Mr Pence and his wife were also reported to have contracted the virus earlier this month.

So far in the US there have been over 211,000 deaths from the Covid-19 and over 7.5 million cases.

On his return, he compared his experience with the virus to the seasonal flu.

He urged Americans to "not be afraid" of the virus and said the country "could beat it".

He tweeted: "Many people every year, sometimes over 100,000, and despite the Vaccine, die from the Flu.

"Are we going to close down our Country? No, we have learned to live with it, just like we are learning to live with Covid, in most populations far less lethal!!!"

In the US the CDC estimates that the flu has resulted in between 9 million – 45 million illnesses, between 140,000 – 810,000 hospitalisations and between 12,000 – 61,000 deaths annually since 2010.

In the UK including pneumonia into the total deaths caused by seasonal influenza would likely see the mortality rate pushed above deaths caused by Covid-19.

On September 29 it was reported that flu killed ten times more Brits than coronavirus for the 14th week in a row.

Data from the Office for National Statistics stated that 14 per cent of deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending September 18 were caused by flu and pneumonia.

By comparison, Covid-19 accounted for 1.5 per cent of all deaths – a total of 139 fatalities.

Figures from the ONS show the number of deaths where influenza, pneumonia or Covid-19 are mentioned on the death certificate

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states: "Advanced age increases the incidence of and the mortality from pneumonia.

"Comorbidity and a diminished immune response and defence against aspiration increase the risk of bacterial pneumonia."

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