A new health scare seems to come along every year, and for a while it looked as if swine flu would be no different.
But the disease has spread to such an extent that it can no longer be controlled, and the cases run into tens of thousands each week.
The West Midlands is no longer a swine flu “hotspot” but that merely reflects the fact that the rate of infection across the whole of England, including here, has shot up to such an extent that it makes the number of cases previously diagnosed in Birmingham look small.
However, although the condition is spreading, most victims will recover from it without complications. In fact, swine flu continues to be a relatively mild virus, despite the deaths which have taken place.
Any flu virus can kill, even if the victim is fit and healthy when the infection occurs. But most survive, and 98 per cent of swine flu patients do not even need hospital treatment.
The concern, well-documented, is that the virus could return in a mutated and more dangerous form. But that has not happened yet.
While there is no reason to panic, there is also no room for complacency. Indeed, one challenge the Government has faced is how to encourage people to seek medical treatment rather than tough it out, without spreading fear. Setting up a national telephone and internet helpline is a sensible way to reduce the pressure on GPs but the real challenge for the Government will be whether it can make the system work without spending a fortune.
It also seems remarkable that MPs are embarking on an 80-day break while the pandemic rages. Health Secretary Andy Burnham must put his holiday plans on hold and dedicate himself to dealing with the flu situation.