If you’ve been watching all of the media hype, you’d be forgiven if you think that the swine flu pandemic will kill us all. But according to some scientists, it’s actually much milder than your average run-of-the-mill flu that hit every winter:

The swine virus does appear able to spread easily among humans, which persuaded the WHO to boost its influenza pandemic alert level to phase 5, indicating that a worldwide outbreak of infection is very likely. And the CDC reported on its website that “a pattern of more severe illness associated with the virus may be emerging in the United States.” […]

But certainly nothing that would dwarf a typical flu season. In the U.S., between 5% and 20% of the population becomes ill and 36,000 people die — a mortality rate of between 0.24% and 0.96%.

Dirk Brockmann, a professor of engineering and applied mathematics at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., used a computer model of human travel patterns to predict how this swine flu virus would spread in the worst-case scenario, in which nothing is done to contain the disease.

After four weeks, almost 1,700 people in the U.S. would have symptoms, including 198 in Los Angeles, according to his model. That’s just a fraction of the county’s thousands of yearly flu victims.

Karen Kaplan and Alan Zarembo of The Los Angeles Times has more: Link