Thursday, June 29, 2006

June 28th Flu Update

China claims it is strenthening its surveillance of bird flu outbreaks.

ProMed reports that the outbreak in Siberia is intensifying.

International experts cite Indonesia's failure in fighting bird flu. Note the reuse of protective gowns.

Key among those, they said, was a shortage of protective equipment that might have led to the infection in hospital of the last family member to die and the unchecked movement in and out of hospital of patients.

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Jakarta has asked for $900m (£494m) in grants over three years to finance a plan it submitted to an international donors conference in Beijing. But international experts argue $200m a year is far more realistic. More-over, many of the things Jakarta is asking for are things it should be prepared to pay for itself, they add.

“It’s a little bit absurd. I don’t know why people don’t call them on this,” said one expert. “What is this money going to be used for? It’s going to be used to build government institutions that should be there in the first place. It’s not [bird flu] specific. It’s things . . .  any civilised country should have.”


Romania says it has lowered the number of flu outbreaks to 21.

Switzerland is ordering 8 million "pre pandemic" doses of flu vaccine, which will be mis matched, but may slow down a pandemic. The question is, when do yu give it?

China says it is also investigating the 2003 bird flu case. (CIDRAP reports).

An Australian vaccine is moving forward in testing.

Reuters has this interesting story on the economic impact of a pandemic. In many ways, it will boil down to how people reaction--rationally, or in a panic mode. Also, the article points out that you have to look beyond the initial reaction--which is bound to be strong, and focus on the recovery.
"The (economic) effects tend to be lower than you'd expect because people are good at adjusting," said Donald Marron, acting director of the U.S. Congressional Budget Office, citing the U.S. economy's resiliency after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and last year's Hurricane Katrina. "A lot depends on the public reaction, which is difficult to predict," Marron added.

A US official says closing borders is low on the priority list.

Utah did a tabletop drill to prepare for the bird flu.

North Bay Parry Sound (Ontario) released its pandemic plan.

Here's an op-ed from the Canadian minister of health on what Canada is doing to prepare for a pandemic.

Now here's the REAL question...will bird flu kill the Internet. Notably, could the bandwidth handle the massive telecommuting?

You know you've heard this...isn't bird flu another "false alarm" like Y2K, West Nile, SARS, etc. Effect Measure looks through each of these, with an eye toward two things. First, some of these things did happen. And two, when you are preventing something, you never know for sure if you really prevented it or if it would never have happened on its own accord.


Effect Measure also has this, when follows right along. The first six months of this year were the worst for the bird flu. This virus is less a false alarm than it was last year.

Conditions for a possible pandemic continue to ripen. The virus is geographically distributed in ever new and different environmental niches, has produced the largest cluster of human cases to date, with solid evidence of human to human to human transmission, and has infected other mammalian species in which to experiment with new lifestyles and genetic endowments.

This is the first time in history the world has been able to watch what might be an evolving influenza pandemic, so we don't know what we are looking at. So far what we see is both frightening and fascinating -- the horrible fascination of watching a trainwreck in slow motion.

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