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Is swine flu the most over-published and over-hyped disease ever?

Carl Heneghan
Last edited 17th March 2010

A quick search of PubMed using the terms ‘swine flu’ and ‘H1N1’ reveals that as of the 27th November 2009 there are currently 4,475 articles on the subject.

The first MEDLINE peer reviewed articles appeared in 1935 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine THE INFECTION OF MICE WITH SWINE INFLUENZA VIRUS by Shope RE (PMID: 19870434). In the intervening years up to March 2009 there were 3,032 articles published in PubMed. Yet, in the last seven months alone we have seen an explosion of articles, with 1,437 peer reviewed articles on the subject: - roughly six per day.

In terms of the big four journals the BMJ leads the way with 107 articles - largely due to the number of news articles it publishes on the issue - followed by the Lancet and New England Journal of Medicine at 35 each, and JAMA bringing up the rear on 21.

By the time you realize articles are starting to appear on the The Emotional Epidemiology of H1N1 Influenza Vaccination you may want to consider drowning your sorrows, or at least I do. Given the impact on my emotional intelligence quotient, of yet another article, on what must be the most over-hyped disease ever, I seemingly keep asking the question: are there any other infections out there?

A shift of focus to the news reveals even more dire statistics. The top story in April on swine flu with 3,675 new articles was the outbreak of a new form of ‘swine flu’ which prompted the United States and the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency. By May 1,881 related articles were focusing on the Southern Hemisphere being mostly spared in the swine flu epidemic.

By May, peaks on H1N1 were occurring with 1,881 articles on confirmation of all of 8 Influenza A/H1N1 cases confirmed in Asia-Pacific, and in August the major peak in news stories occurred for Tamiflu. Unfortunately, along with Dr T I have to lay claim to part of the blame. The publication of the effects of Tamiflu in children in the BMJ saw over 2,000 articles published on the subject in August alone. Which brings us to the current month where 2,741 news articles were published on what has to be a must read story - the availability of the vaccine H1N1 vaccine clinics to offer seasonal flu shots.

Do you know what the killer fact is in all of this? There isn’t one randomized trial out there on swine flu or H1N1 - outrageous.

I love how people seem to be

I love how people seem to be more afraid of H1N1 than getting heart disease from the crap they cram down their throats.

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