Deaths from swine flu rose 30 percent last year in the U.K. after Health Secretary Andrew Lansley scrapped an advertising campaign warning people to receive influenza vaccinations, according to a former high-ranking medical officer.
The number of fatalities from swine flu was 361 at the height of the outbreak in 2009-2010. According to Sir Liam Donaldson, the country’s former chief medical officer, the fatalities rose to 474 last year after Lansley cut the government’s vaccine campaign, the Mirror reports.
Donaldson said that the fatality rates rose in the U.K. while they fell in Europe.
“The differences in the government response over the two years were striking and likely to have contributed to the increased impact of the disease in the second year,” Donaldson said, according to GP Magazine.
While the Royal College of GPs has requested that Lansley bring back the campaigns, the Department of Health has denied that stopping the ad campaign increased flu rates. The department said that the study used inappropriate comparisons to draw a conclusion.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swine flu, also known as 2009 H1N1 influenza, includes symptoms such as sore throat, cough, fever, stuffy or runny nose, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue. The virus spreads through the air by sneezing, coughing and talking by people who have been infected with the virus.