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Let’s treat swine flu like the mild illness it is

Why are we acting like sheep? Sorry, swine… There is no compelling epidemiological evidence that swine flu is anything other than mild flu.

There has also never been any compelling evidence that antiviral use affects significant morbidity or mortality. So why has the GP profession allowed ourselves to be steamrollered into overreaction?

There have been 40 or so deaths to date, most with comorbidities, from at least 100,000 cases. Compare this with normal winter flu, to which thousands of deaths are attributable each winter.

Pandemic only means rapid spread.

All the resources should have been driven into vaccine development as that is the only thing that may change an autumn surge. Instead the Department of Health has spent in excess of £400m in advertising, antiviral drug stocks (20 million courses at £15 a course), continuing updates, viral testing and so on – to say nothing of the enormous expenditure and workload at the coalface. This must stop.

I have patients questioning the use of Tamiflu – many are just staying away and treating themselves conservatively at home. I have a mother who didn't give the Tamiflu she was offered to her child, and the next day found her child was so much better.

The DH is not responsible for the care of individual patients. If their strategy is wrong we should not comply but look after our patients as clinically indicated. Where is our professionalism? Stop this madness and treat the disease for what it is – a mild variant.

God help us if we ever have a virulent variant that does require a co-ordinated effort. We have cried wolf in the most spectacular fashion.

From Dr Christopher Nevill, Newtown, Powys

Please reassure me that Professor David Price was either having a funny turn or has no influence over anything that matters (‘Should Tamiflu be given to all patients with swine flu symptoms?', pulsetoday.ac.uk/debates).

He says: ‘Lack of evidence for the benefits of antivirals isn't sufficient reason not to provide them. If we waited for enough evidence we could find ourselves facing much more severe consequences than might otherwise have occurred.'

What? This is the most politically correct abdication from the scientific method I have ever read. Why not agree with all of homeopathy and start relying on the Tooth Fairy?

From Dr William Barclay, Croydon, Surrey

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