I think Dr Ruth Hussey has put her finger on the nature of the swine flu beast in her latest bulletin. The North West Director for Public Health said: “It seems that although the total number of people catching the virus is going up slowly overall, the complications people are experiencing are severe." In the early days of swine flu, we were expecting many people to be ill and many to be seriously affected or killed. But it seems rather than this strain of pandemic is affecting many - most not seriously at all - but others it is singling out for a particularly severe attack. Why? What is it about those who are being worst affected? There seems no common denominator - you can be very healthy or have severe health problems; you can be young or you can be old; you can be male or female. But Dr Hussey's observation perhaps gives a clue to how best the NHS can form a strategy to tackle swine flu in the next few weeks - a concentration on the large minority who are going to need very specialist treatment to get them through it.
The latest UK figures from the HPA show 119 deaths so far from swine flu (up from 109 last week) And 884 were hospitalised in the week from Ocotber 15 to 21 compared with 667 in the previous week.
In case you haven't seen it already, my interview with Professor Ashton, Cumbria's director of public health, is now online.