Researchers are interested in how Japan was able to reduce H1N1 flu mortality after a WHO report claimed that their rate of death from the disease was 1/16 that of the U.S. and 1/43 that of Australia. Some suggested explanations include Japan's high rates of adherence to hand-washing and mask-wearing practices and early use of Tamiflu to reduce the severity of flu symptoms.
"If you can believe these numbers, then the death rates from H1N1 in the U.S. and Australia are sixteen and forty-three times that of Japan," says Dr. Ross. "I'm sorry to say that masks and early use of Tamiflu cannot possibly account for differences that radical. Whoever accumulated these statistics did something seriously wrong. No amount of mask-wearing, hand-washing, or Tamiflu use can account for such a disparity in the H1N1 death toll. I'm sure Australian health advisories and practices are not forty-three-fold less effective than those of Japan."