From: john on

01 December 2009

Information requested under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002
reveals that there have been no deaths from seasonal influenza in Scotland
since the start of the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic according to the government's

At the same time, the Scottish Govenment has said that 48 people have died
from the swine flu, according to a report in The Scotsman:

"Swine flu claims 48th victim in Scotland

Published Date: 01 December 2009


THE death toll linked to swine flu in Scotland has risen to 48, the Scottish
Government said yesterday.

Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that an adult from the NHS
Ayrshire and Arran Health Board area had died after contracting the H1N1
virus. The patient had underlying health conditions."

The absence of any deaths attributed to the seasonal flu in Scotland and the
simultaneous jump in deaths attributed to the swine flu will spark fears
that the Scottsh government is deliberately manipulating data to exaggerate
the dangers of the swine flu by reclassifying all seasonal flu deaths as
swine flu deaths in order to be able to better justify a mass swine flu
vaccination campaign.

Many of the suspected swine flu cases have tested negative in the UK with
only about 15,000 cases confirmed in labs according to another Freedom of
Information request.

It, therefore, seems highly unlikely that every single person who has died
in Scotland from the flu so far this year has died from the swine flu while
not a single one has died from the seasonal flu.

This is the FOI request:

Chief Medical Officer and Public Health Directorate

Public Health Division

T: 0131-244 5542 F: 0131-244 2157

E: [email address]

Mr McGillivray

By email to: [FOI #22372 email]

Our ref: FoI/09/01511

17 November 2009

Dear Mr McGillivray

Thank you for your email of 2 November which requested information under the
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 on the number of deaths from
seasonal influenza in Scotland since the start of the H1N1 Swine Flu
pandemic. I have been asked to provide a response to the question you have

Thus far this flu season (2009-10), there have been no deaths from seasonal
influenza communicated to colleagues in NHS Health Protection Scotland.
However, I detail below some of the difficulties that exist around
identifying deaths as a result of influenza.

The General Register Office for Scotland (GRO(S)) receives all data held on
each death registered in Scotland and this is collated into the GRO(S)
Annual Report. From time to time, GRO(S) also compiles reports comparing
trends over time. If influenza is recorded at any point on a death
certificate this information is counted in these official statistics.

GRO(S) have recently produced a report compiling information on influenza
deaths across the period 1990 to the end of the 2008/2009 seasonal flu
season, and this is available at:

In this report, GRO(S) comment on the difficulty of capturing data on
influenza related deaths. In overview, it is likely that to date there has
been under-reporting of influenza, which is due to the fact that recording
of deaths is often ascribed to a complication of influenza rather than to
influenza itself. In many cases, the episode of influenza has passed, and
the physician reporting the death may not record this infection on the death
certificate. Furthermore a number of experts suggest that stress on the body
caused by influenza may precipitate heart attacks, strokes and other
conditions in those who are already in poor physical health. It will be
these rapidly fatal conditions that appear on the death certificates rather
than influenza itself. This may also explain partly the excess winter deaths
due to stroke and heart attacks, although other factors such as the cold
temperatures may also be attributable. To overcome this difficulty, the
GRO(S) report describes excess deaths compared to that expected for each

In September this year, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Harry Burns issued a
letter to NHS Boards setting out instructions and providing national
guidance to those responsible for certifying death certificates. Dr Burns
requested that death certificates should record the whole sequence of
conditions and events leading up to death, which in future will provide
better understanding when establishing the number of deaths where seasonal
influenza has been a contributory factor.

If you are unhappy with this response to your request, you may ask us to
carry out an internal review, by writing to Dr Kevin Woods, Director
General - Health, Floor 1E.07 - St Andrews House, Regent Road, Edinburgh,
EH1 3DG. Your request should explain why you wish a review to be carried
out, and should be made within 40 working days of receipt of this letter,
and we will reply within 20 working days of receipt. If you are not
satisfied with the result of the review, you then have the right to make a
formal complaint to the Scottish Information Commissioner.

Yours sincerely


Health Protection Team