"The things we see in the news
are not always the things that are most dangerous to us."
ODDS AGAINST SARS
The chances of dying from SARS are almost as low
as being struck by lightning.
Odds against SARS
National Post, Apr 24, 2003
The World Health Organization may be advising travellers to avoid Toronto in the wake of the SARS outbreak, but the odds seem to suggest that visitors have a lot more to worry about than just the mysterious disease.
As of yesterday, 16 people in the greater Toronto area -- one for every 292,681 residents -- had died from the virus. Mathematically speaking, a person is much more likely to die in a flood (one in 237,132), be murdered (one in 50,353), or accidentally strangle themselves in bed (one in 10,779). "The safest way to travel is in a plane," said Emile Therien, the president of the Canada Safety Council. "But probably your chances of dying in a plane crash coming to Toronto are much greater than your chances of acquiring SARS." For the record, the odds of dying in a plane crash this year are approximately one in 380,000.
Yesterday's warning from the WHO sparked outrage from Canadian health officials and politicians from all levels of government, who called the advisory an unnecessary overreaction. They said Toronto, which has unofficially been shunned for weeks, does not need an official black mark as it struggles to keep the city's economy afloat. "I've never been angrier in my life," said Mel Lastman, Toronto's Mayor. "I'm shocked. The medical evidence before us does not support this advisory." Indeed, the odds appear to be in Mr. Lastman's favour.
The Greater Toronto Area, which includes Toronto, Peel, Durham, York and Halton, has a total population of 4,682,897. Approximately 260 people in the region -- one for every 18,011 residents -- are being treated for probable or suspected SARS symptoms. According to the odds, there are far worse fates than coming down with SARS symptoms.
- Canadians have an estimated one-in-100 chance of acquiring skin cancer, with a one-in-400 chance of dying from the disease.
- One in every 1,272 Canadians was sexually assaulted in 2001.
- The likelihood of dying from a fall from a ladder is one in 9,485, which is only slightly lower than the chances of falling out of a building.
Actually dying of SARS in Toronto is even more of a rarity. While the 16 deaths -- one for every 292,681 residents -- have brought obvious pain to the victims' friends and relatives, the chances of dying from the disease are almost as low as being struck by lightning (approximately one in 500,000).
- According to last year's traffic records, a person is 205 times more likely to die in a car crash -- one in 22,843 -- than succumb to SARS.
- Approximately 90 people were murdered in the GTA last year, which means visitors have a much higher chance of suffering stab wounds than SARS fevers.
- One in every 72,265 people in Ontario last year died of the flu -- far more than the amount who have fallen victim to SARS.
- The odds of dying from a dog bite -- one in 142,279 -- are higher than dying from SARS.
"You're much more at risk of getting into a car accident or dying of the flu," said Dr. Martin Antony, a professor of psychiatry at McMaster University. "We want to keep things in perspective. The things we see in the news are not always the things that are most dangerous to us."
'Drugs don't work on many people' (says chief exec of drug making giant). BBC, Dec 9, 2003. Go to 14.Experimentation & 2.Big Brother & PILLS DON'T WORK & MONSTER VACCINE NEEDED
Mad Cow vaccine almost ready (avoids large-scale slaughter presently used to detect). Toronto Star, Jun 2, 2003. Go to BIO-CHEM WARFARE: VACCINES
Go to HEALTH CRUSADERS
28.Reality Control and 17.Falsification of Present
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