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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Playing The Swine Flu Market

Don't get me wrong, there's a serious angle to the whole thing. Obviously. Someone I'm working with on a project was quarantined at their house for getting back from Mexico. That's a first.

But what I'm not buying into is this crap:

Food and water. A three-day supply is good; a two-week supply is better. Think non-perishable, easily prepared items. In a severe pandemic, far worse than anything we are experiencing now, even grocery stores and utility companies could be closed or crippled, simply because too few people show up for work. But even in today's outbreak, one suddenly-sick child might keep your whole family homebound for a week. You won't want an empty pantry if that happens.
-- Your Health: What to consider in preparing for a pandemic

Pretty much any time someone recommends something that I would consider for a zombie apocalypse, I do a quick gut check on. You'll note the conditional phrase "far worse than anything we are experiencing now" shoved into the middle of that paragraph, even though the article as a whole seems to be written in a style of OMG THE CORNER STORE BURNING!

Well, not quite that bad - but it is still pretty blatant fear-mongering as journalism goes.

Instead of that, I say we play the swine flu market:

Five propositions are currently listed on the swine-flu stock exchange:

* How long will the flu outbreak last in the U.S.? As of 9 p.m. ET today, the priciest investment (and hence the highest probability) is that it will last beyond July 31 (73 cents, or 73 percent).

* How many U.S. states will have at least one confirmed swine-flu case by May 31? The favored choice, at 39 cents a share, is 31 to 40 states.

* What will be the level of the swine-flu mortality rate in the U.S. by July 31? The favored choice, at 48 cents a share, is 1 to 2.5 percent.

* How many countries will have swine-flu cases by July 31, as confirmed by the World Health Organization? The favored choice, at 68 cents a share, is 26 to 50 countries.

* How many U.S. swine-flu cases will be confirmed by the end of May 31? The favored choice, at 53 cents a share, is more than 1,100 cases.

The mortality rate is concerning, as your average flu outbreak doesn't break 0.25 usually. Course that article also predicts the pandemic mortality rate to be mild, lest it last past the summer and mutates into a deadlier form.

If I had a I kid in school, I'd probably be more worried. But as it stands, it just seems like the numbers are more or less in my favor. And I'm the guy who usually catches everything that goes around, but if the US has a 1,000 cases or so by Memorial Day - I stand a pretty good chance of not being one of them. And not being either an infant nor infirmed ... even if I was one of them, I'd likely not be one of the ten going sockeye over it.

If you were wondering if there was a Google Map of outbreaks - there indeed be one.

And also, this handy site to see if you have swine flu.

Also (more seriously), WebMD gives you good reasons not to be too worried.

1 comment:

Brinstar said...

Pretty much any time someone recommends something that I would consider for a zombie apocalypse, I do a quick gut check on.Seriously. People need to get a grip.