To put the scares in perspective, about half-a-million people die from common flus in an average year.
More than a million die on the roads. But governments are often more easily moved to tackle a short-term crisis than a long-term crisis, and on-going situations like road deaths don't register as news.
Take the two risks identified by the physicist Stephen Hawking as the biggest threats to humankind - climate change and a GM virus modified by terrorists with no human immune response.
On climate the world's politicians are failing to mitigate the risk as described by scientists. On the GM terror, there may be little biologically they can do.
Policy-makers goaded by media headlines in the current flu outbreak are faced with one uncomfortable certainty as they ponder future precautions - they are damned if they do and damned if they don't.
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