Lack of warnings over flu may have led to more deaths in year after pandemic, say experts

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 17 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2811
  1. Zosia Kmietowicz
  1. 1London

The decision of the United Kingdom’s coalition government to cancel the traditional publicity campaign about the dangers of flu the year after the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-10 is likely to have contributed to a rise in numbers of deaths and admissions to hospital the following year, researchers say.

The only “notable difference” between the pandemic year of 2009-10 and the year immediately after was the action of the government, say investigators, one of whom is Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer for England in the first year of the pandemic, who stepped down from the post when the coalition came to power in May 2010. They describe the government’s approach to flu that year as “laissez-faire,” particularly the cancellation of the public awareness campaign by the health secretary for England, Andrew Lansley.

Their analysis of flu activity in England, published in Eurosurveillance (2012;17:pii=20139;, shows that during the winter of 2010-11 …

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