Children could have some immunity
New research reveals that, although up to a third of children in some areas may have had swine flu, many will not have actually been ill, meaning there may be a significantly high degree of immunity in children. The findings also prove that the pandemic is actually a mild strain of flu, from the same family of the virus as the normal seasonal flu and previous pandemics.
Children can be infected but not show physical signs of illness
The Health Protection Agency has reviewed blood tests which showed higher levels of infection among children than they'd originally thought. In hotspot areas, such as London and the West Midlands, a third of school-aged children may have had the virus, but only one in 10 or less got ill. Across the UK, the figure is probably about a fifth, the HPA said.
Flu, whether it is seasonal or swine, always affects more people than actually get ill. The ratio is normally about 50-50 and pandemic flu is probably not much different, the HPA said.
30-40% of over 50s could have some immunity
The new evidence is interesting because it means the 1m figure for the overall number of swine flu cases seen so far is likely to be an underestimate. Coupled with this, between 30-40% of over 50s are thought to have some immunity from previous strains they have come into contact with.
New cases are half of what they were in summer
The HPA admitted this new development could explain why the virus hadn't really taken off this autumn - the number of new cases is currently half of what they were in the summer.
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