Friday, December 22, 2006

December 21 Flu Update

South Korea reports a fourth outbreak of flu among birds.

HHS has asked the public to contribute comments on how to allocate scare vaccine during a pandemic.

We blogged earlier in the week on President Bush signing a hazard preparedness law, and we wondered out loud what some of the blogosphere's wonks would think of it. Revere weighs in here.

There are some good things here. It is still just enabling legislation and has no money attached to it and lots of blank spaces that need to be filled in. Getting the public health responses out of Homeland Security and into DHHS is a good move. For the rest, we'll just have to wait and see. This administration has a poor track record.

ProMed covers flu stories from around the world.

There is a new projected/estimated bird flu death toll....62 million.

The geese in the St. Petersburg Zoo did not die of bird flu.

Residents in Utah are urged to stop feeding ducks and geese.

Indonesia says it is having success with bird flu, noting reduced cases.

I swear I am not making this up. Click it and see. The Northern Ireland Pigeon Association had its December meeting and discussed bird flu.


At 9:54 AM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Well, well, well, I see the big news of the day is the Harvard study, which indicates by applying actual historical death data of the 1918 pandemic, to the modern day population data, they calculated a death toll of from 51M to 81M, with a median estimate of 62M. And this no doubt in my mind is based on the 2% lethality rate of 1918. Hmmm….let’s see, the present fatality rate of H5N1 is currently an undisputed 60%, so the real answer is somewhere between 2% and 60%, and so the modern day death toll in actuality could be double or triple the 62M medium number, quite easily.

This now puts the academic community in my mind about 12-18 months behind internal US government discussions. Quite a lag time, but by my estimates, some time in the next year 2007, all the model data, public and private, should begin to converge to reveal how devastating a pandemic could be on the world. I will be interested in the Saturday issue of the Lancet, like a lot of people, to examine the assumptions closely. I can tell you all reading this, that extreme government models in the severe to ultra-severe category scenario, peg world deaths in the 250-750 M range.

Based on what little I have actually seen in the news media reports about this Harvard study, their general conclusions about there being a huge variation of deaths in those countries affected by the pandemic, with approximately 96% of the deaths attributable to the developing third world countries – seem correct and fairly accurate, mainly due to the lack of health care and other essential support services in those places. But don’t be swayed by feeling you are impervious to this threat, just because you live in the western world. Although we in N. America and W. Europe, there is no doubt that we have generally excellent medicines and health care, the effects of a pandemic on the social, economic, production, and entire delivery systems of goods and services in the west – could and would be on the order of a scaled linear cataclysm. The related collateral type deaths, damage and disruption, not specifically caused by the H5N1 bug itself, could be substantial. The disruption could be, as stated many times, on the analogy of many, many, ongoing Katrina-like catastrophe’s simultaneously. This is impossible for 99% of people to cognately fathom. Ol’ Wulf can easily imagine no gas deliveries, no food deliveries, enforced public closures and restricted travel, just to name a few major creature discomforts that would have to be endured.

The differences between 1918 and 2007, are numerous, both positive and negative. In my view, it still all amounts to a couple of simple things: how well individuals and societies are prepared in advance, how severe the pandemic actually is, and how robust the various supply and delivery systems of a country actually are – which could tell the defining story in the history books.

Time to consider buying some more Clorox, people.



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