Saturday, December 16, 2006

December 15 Flu Update

South Korea confirms that its flu cases are the Qinghai strain.

European regulators have approved a Glaxo pre-pandemic virus.

But it would only be used once a pandemic has officially been declared and would not be stockpiled in its current form, since it will have to be adapted to include the exact pandemic virus strain.

Congress passed a health preparedness bill...I'm wondering what some of our public policy wonks think.

Another "whatever happened to the bird flu" article.

Effect Measure on pandemic planning, asking whether anyone really gets it all. Cites another example of something people don't think about--like Wheeled Meals in a pandemic.

Indonesia still has the highest number of current cases.

Cumberland County PA held a flu summit.

There was a lecture in Sayre, PA.

They were also discussing the flu in North Carolina.

An official of the Georgia Cooperative Extension is out to correct "untrue rumors" about the bird flu.

From the Weekly Standard...."The Chicken Littles were wrong."

Texas Company announces portable, inflatable hospital facilities for surges.


At 10:41 AM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Great job as usual, posting well balanced articles which depict different subjects and viewpoints on the pandemic topic.

I guess according to Michael Fumento, author of the Weekly Standard article, "The bird flu threat flew the coop", because H5N1 hasn't yet mutated and achieved human-to-human efficient transmission - therefore, all this hub-bub about bird flu is a waste of taxpayer's money and time. He further goes on to categorize most, if not all, of the world's most notable epidemiologists, virologists, and scientists - "fear monger's". Interesting. The one single most time in world history when science has given us the ability to prepare the worst in advance, and some knuckhead writer says from his safe cubicle in Washington, "it's all wasted effort".

I will agree with his article on one point, and one point only: The probability of an avian pandemic occurence is very low. But the impact could well be something that gets recorded in history books forever.

I would like to refute Mr. Fumento's statements, point-by-point, but there isn't enough space on your blogsite Orange, to do so, so I will be brief in my response. There are many slippery inaccuracies and omissions in this article.

Mainly, Mr. Fumento characterizes the avian flu preparation, as Y2K-like, and uses the basic argument that since H5N1 hasn't yet achieved efficient human-to-human transmission, and is not likely to, this is all about fear mongering and bureaucractic waste of valuable resources. Also, since it is confined to birds, and they are all being innoculated, the problem is essentially, well, over - according to him. He also says that we have essentially achieved the point where antivirals and pre-pandemic vaccines are effective and reliable, and since we can manufacture plenty of these, why are we wasting our money ? Notice in his article, he never once mentions the great pandemic of 1918 that killed in-excess of 50M people, but alludes to the puny epidemics of 1957-58 and 1968-69 as the "last two flu epidemics in the 20th century" ?

According to his flawed logic, if I follow it correctly, we really shouldn't have prepared in advance, or done anything in preparation either, for the following - the tsunami in Indonesia, Mount Pinatubo or St. Helens, Katrina, the San Francisco earthquake (ergo, ignor the San Andreas fault, since nothing has happened yet), global warming, SARS, bioterrorism, HIV, the rise of Nazism, or we shouldn;t even look for large meteors entering into close earth orbit. I guess we should simply get up out of our bed every day, make our toast, and be happy and stop being concerned about things, since they might not ever occur. All of these events and situation were, after all, also deemed extremely low probability events, before they occurred. Duhhhhh.

This is a high stakes game of poker the world is playing in Mr. Fumento. You need to describe how our fragile society, environment, social, health systems and economic system would quickly collapse from the impact of a modern day out-of-control pandemic.

Now Orange, for the best part about this journalist: In 1990, investigative journalist Michael Fumento's book, The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS, tried to prove that AIDS was a gay disease only. Fumento in his book, asserted that public health officials, in league with homosexual activists, routinely lied about the danger of AIDS to the heterosexual population, and thus misused scarce resources, costing many lives that could have been saved. Now, that sounds like a real piece of indepth investigative reporting and journalistic work. Don't you think ? This guy is a tabloid spinner.

Folks, arrive at your own conclusions - stake your family's lives on this journalist's article ? Not me, in a heart beat. Two hundred years ago he would have been a card-carrying member of the Flat Earth Society.


At 11:02 AM, Blogger Orange said...

Great catch on the HIV thing! There's nowhere to hide today...

At 11:40 AM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Sorry, I got so involved in the other article, I forget to comment on the CIDRAP article, "Congress passes public health preparedness bill".

I guess you could say I'm a "wonk" - I have to deal with these sorts of things, day-in and day-out, plus many other things.

This bill, assuming it is signed by the President, will be a Godsend. It may be the one thing that saves every body's posterier. It pretty much establishes the HHS BARDA as the responsible authority, to oversee our US pandemic national strategy and response. The bill also enables HHS to establish: preparedness standards, an integrated nationwide electronic real-time information sharing system, medical surge capacity standards and benchmarks, expansion of the Medical Reserve Corp, and consequences if States fail to implemment guidelines. HHS will do a superlative job, watch for significant changes and focus in the next oncoming months.

I like the guy named "Marc Wolfson", spokesman for HHS - there's something about his name that's appealing to me.

The very last thing that the US needs, is to have the CDC, DHS or FEMA head up these efforts, as they relate to pandemic preparedness. As Katrina proved, DHS and FEMA are good at some things, but you definately don't want them in charge of pandemic planning. The DHS speciality and expertise is national security and terrorism; the FEMA folks are best at emergency logistics and pre-postioning essential supplies and materials - or at least they are supposed to be. The CDC Gerberding lady is bogged down in agency infighting and still hasn't figured out what her job is. Trust Ol' Wulfgang, we definately don't want the DHS in charge during a pandemic, not Chertoff. Having that guy in charge, would guarantee a thousand more Katrinas, and we can't afford that.

Incidentally, the Revere's as usual, really hit on a relevant topic - realistic planning and who "gets it" and who doesn't. Very nice example of not overlooking the needy and elderly. Let's hope everyone steps up that that example they gave.



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