Friday, December 29, 2006

December 29 Flu Update

Situation in Egypt is called "grim."

On the current bird flu situation in Egypt, Egyptian Health Ministry spokesman Abdel Rahman Shahine told Xinhua that the situation seems to be dangerous but it is under control, specially as people start to recognize how dangerous the virus is and directly inform the authorities of any suspected cases.

The US government says it has met 90% of its objectives for bird flu prep from six months ago.

Michael T. Osterholm, PhD, MPH, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), publisher of the CIDRAP Web site, said he applauds the Bush administration for issuing a progress report on pandemic preparedness. "But we really have to ask ourselves the hard question 'What does it mean to be prepared?', and right now, I don't think we have a clue," he said.
Here's a link to the actual report.

ProMed on Vietnam...strong efforts with internal checkpoints to help stamp out the bird flu.

Jordan says it is still vigilant against the bird flu.

Researchers in South Korea say that travelers are not likely to catch the bird flu.

Indonesia has allocated $61M for bird flu prevention in 2007 to chase their goal of no human cases.

Amador County, CA, is preparing for a pandemic.

An official from a travel insurance company says that bird flu deaths could be reduced by immunizing against secondary diseases that come in after the flu.

From Budapest, the new flu risk is complacency.

The University of Maryland is testing a cell-based vaccine in clinical trials.

Businesses in the Research Triangle, NC, are preparing for pandemics.

Effect Measure evokes a earthquake zone building code metaphor to look at what case fatality trends mean for the bird flu.

Letter to the Editor in Salem OR calls for poultry to be removed from residential neighborhoods due to risk of bird flu.


At 11:46 AM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Well, well, this is one time where your CIDRAP article detailing the Fed’s progress on pandemic preparedness, outshines the Effective Measure’s renowned Revere.

In view of the continued reports of actual new human bird flu cases coming out of Egypt, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the fact that these same countries, plus Nigeria, are admitting that the H5N1 virus is endemic, I would say we still have a significant world problem staring us in the face.

I’d like to address the Fed’s detailed report on its progress. I have made no secret of the fact that I have been involved in and had many first hand opportunities to see our pandemic planning in action. As the report points out, we have made significant progress in a multitude of critical areas over the last 12 months, for example, in areas of medication stockpiles, checklists of procedures for the travel and medical industries, community planning and response, vaccine manufacturing preparation, and public safety. Except for the stockpiling of vaccines and anti-virals, the rest of the pegged success, is all on paper. It’s what any reasonable person calls, “catching up”. There still remain significant holes and gaps. The general state of condition is, absolutely without a doubt in my opinion, as Dr. Osterholm points out, “What does it mean to be prepared ? Right now, I don’t think we have a clue”. His critical observation that the report reflect a “US-centered” viewpoint and doesn’t realistically reflect the just-in-time world economy and resultant impacts, is quite accurate. I would go well beyond what he says though.

Based on my personal observations, the following seven critical areas of pandemic planning need to be addressed immediately:

Emergency communication system – there needs to be a integrated centralized universal emergency communication and response network system established post-haste. The system needs to be accessible by Federal and state governments, as well as have a citizen communication component. Why we haven’t learned this from Katrina is beyond my comprehension.

Food and medicine – there are very few actual stockpiles of, or workable systems in place, to assure adequate national, regional or state supplies of essential food, pharmaceutical’s, medicine, or supplies.

Transportation – there is no integrated national set of procedures to assure that the highest priority goods and essential supplies will be delivered via ocean shipping, heavy roadway trucks, rail, or air.

Information Technology – there is absolutely no integrated national or commercial planning strategy to ensure the internet or phone network systems remains alive and functional during a pandemic. Current expectations are that the internet will cease to function within a week or two of the onset of a pandemic. This situation would be devastating, as the lack of good information during an international crisis, may be just as critical as lack of adequate food, medicines and supplies.

Pandemic Rules of Engagement – there are inadequate or nonexistent strategies for: invoking military assistance for law and order, expropriation of property, facilities, and essential assets for the public welfare, and clear delineation of Federal and state responsibilities and guidelines in controversial areas, for example – invoking quarantines, large public gatherings and events, public school closures, interstate transportation and evacuations.

Fuel Supplies – there is no truly integrated national/state/commercial strategy to ensure adequate or continued delivery of oil and gasoline to fuel this nation’s transportation system. Our current “strategy” defaults directly to our multi-national oil companies, who are…multi-nationally owned and operated. Think there might be an impending problem there on which nations would get fuel deliveries ? I do.

Remote Work Procedures – are unrealistic. These plans are mostly, well, what should really be called… “non-work-at-home” planning procedures. Very few people at this point truly understand the fragileness of the WWW and phone systems, and how interconnected and critical it is to maintain financial transactions, deliveries, and transmit information, especially from remote work locations. Virtually all business transactions are tied electronically, and there is presently no realist means of assuring that this critical electronic medium will be available during a national emergency. Disassembling firewalls to allow remote emergency access is it itself, a monumental problem that hasn’t been addressed. Anybody closely involved in pandemic planning knows this.

All people and governments need to remember Ol’ Wulf’s golden rule in emergency planning- you hope for the best, but you prepare for the worst.



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