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The Importance of Sample Size, Swine Flu Edition

What made swine flu so worrisome was the high death toll it wrought in Mexico. Most of us assumed that the virus would be at least as lethal wherever it spread. It wasn’t. With the virus temporarily in retreat, current estimates show all but one of the swine flu deaths were confined to Mexico, and all but a few of those were in Mexico City. Why? Rampant poverty, for one, which kept many in Mexico who contracted swine flu from going to the doctor until it was too late. Swine flu isn’t much more dangerous than seasonal flu, it just struck a particularly vulnerable population. That didn’t prevent a public panic, of course: the Mexican economy could lose as much as $5 billion before tourism and economic activity recovers. [%comments]