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Volume 459: debated on Friday 20 April 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to the answer of 17 July 2006, Official Report, columns 244-5W, on avian influenza, what information her Department holds on (a) the fatality rates for the pandemic influenza outbreaks of (i) 1918-19 (H1N1), (ii) 1957 (N2N2) and (iii) 1968 (H3N2) and (b) the equivalent fatality rates amongst humans catching animal variations of each virus. (131162)

[holding answer 16 April 2007]: Contemporary Ministry of Health estimates of deaths in England and Wales were 200,000 for 1918-19 and 30,000 for 1957. Contemporary estimates for the 1969-70 pandemic are around 80,000. The fatality rates for humans catching the animal variations of each virus is not known.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what exercises were conducted to test the UK’s preparedness for an outbreak of pandemic flu; when each was conducted; and if she will place in the Library the evaluations of these exercises. (129906)

The Department funds the Health Protection Agency (HPA) to undertake regional and national exercises to prepare the health community in England to respond to an influenza pandemic.

Local and regional exercises

1. 23 June 2005—Exercise Arctic Sea

2. 21 September 2005—Exercise Aurora

3. 28 October 2005—Exercise New Day

4. 8 January 2007—Exercise Athena

National exercises

5. 14 and 15 June 2006—Exercise Shared Goal

6. 1-2 to 30 January and 19 and 20 February 2007—Exercise Winter Willow

European Union exercise

1. 23-24 November 2005—Exercise Common Ground

The reports for Exercise New Day, Exercise Aurora and Exercise Arctic Sea have been placed in the Library and are also available on the HPA website at:

The report on Exercise Athena will be published later in the year, and copies will be placed in the Library when available.

Exercise Common Ground, a European Commission (EC) commissioned and HPA-run influenza pandemic exercise, was undertaken with participants that included the EC and European Union member states. The final report is on DG-SANCO of the European Commission website at:

Evaluation reports for national exercises, such as Exercise Shared Goal and Exercise Winter Willow, are not formally published. However, the lessons identified through national exercises are taken forward and inform national policy where appropriate through TIDO (Prepare), the official committee on resilience.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what her Department's central planning assumption is for the (a) clinical attack rate and (b) case mortality rate in an outbreak of pandemic influenza. (131952)

The Government's current planning assumptions are based on a range of possible clinical attack rates of between 25-50 per cent. and overall case fatality rates of 0.4-2.5 per cent.