Knives are out for the government over swine flu: a House of Lords report today criticises delays in setting up the National Pandemic Flu Service and seriously questions the health system's ability to cope with an expected 'second wave' of the virus this autumn. (Whether a second wave will be of this same, mild, strain or a stronger mutation, nobody knows. It's what's happened in the past but, as they like to say of the stock market and hedge funds, past performance is no guarantee of future results.)
But has the government, media and country overreacted? We were worried that the NPFS would be handing out Tamiflu like sweeties, but one of the two new flu centres in Bromley has closed - due to lack of demand. The antiviral collection point in Beckenham handed out 200 packets of Tamiflu over the weekend, not enough to justify staying open. Of course, it could just be that rates of infection are slowing down as this wave peaks, or perhaps people are being sensible and staying at home when they feel dodgy and not spreading the virus around. (Seriously, STAY AT HOME.) It's a bit early to tell. Or, you know, we may all still die in a couple of months.* But given that Bromley was one of the least affected boroughs a couple of weeks ago, two centres may have been overkill from the start - Tower Hamlets, swine flu central, also has just the one. Did someone say panic?
* This is unlikely