The number of deaths from the 2009-2010 swine flu pandemic may be 15 times greater than originally thought, a study finds.
New estimates derived from mathematical formulas showed that World Health Organization’s original assessment of 18,500 deaths worldwide may actually be closer to 284,500. The early numbers were based on laboratory-confirmed deaths.
CBS News reports that the new figures were calculated from numbers of people with flu symptoms and the number of respiratory and heart-related deaths that happened during the pandemic.
The study noted that 80 percent of the respiratory and cardiovascular deaths were in people under the age of 65, and 59 percent occurred in Southeast Asia and Africa.
“This pandemic really did take an enormous toll,” lead author Dr. Fatimah Dawood of the Centers for Disease Control told The Huffington Post. “Our results also suggest how best to deploy resources. If a vaccine were to become available, we need to make sure it reached the areas where the death toll is likely to be highest.”