Daily View 2×2: Tuesday 21 July

2 Big Stories

Health Secretary Andy Burnham has attempted to regain the initiative after Monday’s criticisms with the announcement of a pandemic flu service by the end of the week.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the phone and website service will be able to provide flu diagnosis and access to drugs without the need to go to GPs.

He also defended the government against claims from opposition parties that the service was a month late.

He said the government had wanted to wait until the health service was under intense pressure before acting.

Meanwhile the MoD, under attack for the provision of equipment for soldiers in Afghanistan, has been accused of wasting millions of public money:

The National Audit Office said £155m of spending on radio systems used in Afghanistan could not be accounted for.

It also said its payroll system was inefficient and open to fraud, leading one senior Conservative MP to say the department must “get a grip”.

Officials said that while central tracking of equipment was difficult it did not mean any items were missing.

2 Must-read Blog Posts

Alex Wilcock covers both Andy Burnham’s performance on yesterday’s Today programme and Damian McBride’s emotional interview about Smeargate. Handkerchiefs at the ready!

Meanwhile, Stephen Glenn has been remembering the moon landings in 1969.

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One Comment

  • Herbert Brown 21st Jul '09 - 8:25am

    “Health Secretary Andy Burnham has attempted to regain the initiative after Monday’s criticisms with the announcement of a pandemic flu service by the end of the week.”

    The more time goes on, the more puzzled I am by this swine flu business.

    Supposedly the “best case” scenario for the UK, announced last week, involves more than 3000 deaths (based on 5% of the population contracting swine flu and 1 in 1000 of them dying).

    But estimates published by the CDC in the USA a few weeks ago suggested 1,000,000 had contracted swine flu, with less than 200 deaths – a mortality rate of only 1 in 5000. And in the UK a survey published at the weekend suggested about 250,000 had been off work with flu-like symptoms in the last fortnight, with the national death toll still less than 30. That would suggest an even smaller mortality rate (even without accounting for sufferers who aren’t in employment).

    The Southern hemisphere is pretty much at the height of the flu season. Chile is past the peak of its swine flu epidemic, as are Victoria and New South Wales, where the virus took hold earliest in Australia. But the numbers reported to have died there are tiny in normal flu terms – 35 in Australia, 40 in Chile. On the basis of the UK’s “best case” scenario we should expect the death tolls in Australia and Chile to be in the high hundreds (in the UK’s “worst case” scenario, they would be well over 10,000).

    I feel I’m missing something here. Surely the “best case” scenario can’t be predicated on the assumption that the virus will suddenly become 10 or 20 times more lethal than it is at present?

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