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The Associated Press yesterday reported that there would be no licensed swine flu vaccine until the end of the year. Apparently the yield of the active ingredient(s) from the swine flus being used is only about half of that of normal flu viruses.

As part of that article, AP cited British Health Minister Andy Burnham as saying the UK could see up to 100,000 cases per day by the end of August. Swine flu vaccine is supposed to start arriving in the UK in August (but not nearly enough to vaccinate everyone).

I find the numbers cited by Andy Burnham to be a little hard to believe. They may be to some extent a ploy to be first in line for swine flu vaccine. However, few government officials will completely fabricate numbers about matters as serious as this one.

There is likely some truth to the numbers. That famous London fog (damp and cold weather) may play a role in the predicted number of new swine flu cases. No one should completely discount this prediction. Certainly Andy Burnham is more expert than I. WHO has recorded only about 100,000 total cases worldwide to date.

If these predictions bear out, this could be the start of a massive worldwide economic slide. I have seen estimates that a large pandemic of the magnitude the UK is talking about could negatively affect the worldwide GDP by 4% or more. Even if it is much less, it still sounds significant.

We may be seeing “green shoots” now, but a major pandemic will soon see them turn yellow and die. Hold onto your hats folks. The ride seems likely to get rougher in the near future.