1 in 1000 deaths by Swine Flu. Yeah, right!

June 17, 2009

The Sunday Age (June 14 2009)) ran the headline Logic seems elusive, but swine flu fears not to be sneezed atflu head Correction and then proceeded to give alarming statistics about Swine Flu killing 1 in 1000.  Lets get to work Mathspigs and show what a load of whatever comes out the back end of pigs these numbers represent. The aim of this blog is to get people thinking about numbers that appear in the media. You don’t have to be an expert. You only have to be prepared to think with numbers.

flu stats CorrectionLet us begin. The chances of dying from Swine Flu are 1 in 1000 per diagnosed cases.

The source of this stat is the govt funded AUSTRALIAN INSTITUTE OF HEALTH AND WELFARE #mce_temp_url#  

As of June 15 2009 there had been NO DEATHS in Australia from Swine Flu.


ZERO. None. NUTINK!!!!!

See updated statistics on the news.com.au website: #mce_temp_url#

What is going on?  

Death stats have one major flaw. The chance of dying is 1000 in 1000 or 100% over a life time, obviously.more death stats Correction If 1 in 4 dies of cancer it is not so tragic if they are all over 80 compared with any deaths for, say, under age of 18. 

Meanwhile, the chance of dying of Swine Flu as of June 15 2009 was ZERO. The chance of dying of ordinary flu is 1 in 1000 of diagnosed cases BUT those who are diagnosed are often sick already with other conditions. 


Finally, your chance of being killed by a shark is 1 in 271,257 as shown.

What?  77 people are killed by sharks in Australia annually.


These are statistics over a life time. 80 years, say.

Less than 1 Aussie a year is killed by sharks. 

Maths TEacher, Jeff Trevaskis, has a Foundation Maths exercise using newpapers on his mathsweb blog

#mce_temp_url#  involving %, areas and graphs. It might be just the right time to have a look at those CRAZY DEATH STATISTICS too. And just to cheer you up and few more death stats from The Sunday Age article.


UPDATE: As of 21st Oct 2009 Australia is over the peak Swine Flu infection period which usually occurs in August. 

The Total Deaths from Swine Flu as of 21st Oct 2009 = 185

Any death is tragic but this must be considered in relation to the statistic that there are around

2,000 – 3,000 deaths in Australia annually for seasonal flu. Australia did take many health precautions regarding Swine Flu and free vaccinations are now available. 

death stats 2 Correction


  1. This is not quite right. The odds reflect a different concept. One out of every 1000 infected people are likely to die, not the population at large. All of your other examples refer to the entire population, so it is not really a very good argument.

    • Hi Marie,
      First thing is any death from Swine Flu is tragic. I’m sure you would agree. Those who do die form Flu are, usually, already ill. That said. I agree with you. Mathspig tries to show the ridiculous use of maths in the media. The stats in the article reviewed are all over the place. The shark attack, bee sting etc show risk over the entire population over a life time. As you commented, the flu stats involve those already diagnosed with flu. These CANNOT be compared. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Mathspig

  2. How can it not be compared? 1000 people get cancer: 250 of them die. 1000 people are diagnosed with the “swine flu,” so only one of them dies. It’s a hype and i’ll take my chances.

  3. Hey, I found your blog while searching on Google your post looks very interesting for me. I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

    I’m Out! 🙂

    • Hey Riley,
      Good to hear from you. Will try and keep interesting maths happening. Cheers Mathspig

  4. […] For more statistics : swine flu mathspig  […]

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