Friday, May 18, 2007

May 17 Flu Update

Margaret Chan gives an emotional appeal on virus sharing.

"If you do not share the virus with us, I want to be absolutely honest with you, I will fail you," Dr. Margaret Chan said in a speech to WHO's annual meeting of 193 member states in Geneva.

"I will fail you because you are tying my hands, you are muffling my ears, you are blinding my eyes."

An African has joined the Global Virus Sharing initiative through WHO.

The US has donated some bird flu equipment to Cambodia.

A speaker in St. Louis says that the nation is doing little to prepare for bird flu.

Wry comment and photo from Revere echoes this point.

But look! They are preparing in Laramie.

ProMed has some stories on the resumption of the Indonesian sample sharing.


At 6:37 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Your two articles on preparedness, out of Laramie, Wyoming and St. Louis, Missouri, both have me looking into my crystal ball, trying to predict how an actual pandemic will be perceived by the general public.

First, as the saying goes, “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist” to know that, in a very large sense, the general public is totally unprepared for the challenges that a pandemic situation would present. This is despite numerous warnings by the experts, the governments and the media.

I believe the public perception to the pandemic will be dictated by how quickly the government responds in distributing and dispensing Tamiflu. This will be the key determinant to everything – the major barometer which sets the stage.

A pandemic vaccine will not even be available until well after the worst has taken place, so this makes the timely distribution of Tamiflu, coupled with self-quarantines, theoretically critical to controlling the spread and fatalities.

If the authorities are Katrina-like slow to react with antiviral distribution, then a “no-win” situation results: the government will have lost all credibility at that point, and to a largely unprepared and extremely near sighted population, the public will perceive that their government has failed them once again. In my view, the country of New Zealand has the correct Tamiflu approach: make it available now in the pharmacies, as over-the-counter, and you assure it is available. Stockpiling it in pre-positioned secret locations, guarantees a new “New Orleans” type disaster.

Even after repeated warnings by public officials and the media, unprepared people simply will not understand why their government does not have a pandemic vaccine instantly available. They will have no appreciation of the fact that Indonesia and China, sandbagged them.

One can quibble why no school closure thresholds have been established by the federal governments, but I believe issues like these are minor points in the grand scheme of things. We are missing the big picture. People will automatically cease reporting to work, or sending their children to school, at the first hint of a suspected major worldwide deadly epidemic. Even though they are unprepared, they will quickly see that venturing out into public, could be a death sentence – and most people will not like the odds of the fatality rate.

To a society of people hooked on fast food, restaurants, SUV’s, mobility, entertainment, sports, 24 hr food purchases and convenience, with mostly no savings or health insurance as a safety cushion, a pandemic is going to be a very tough pill to swallow.

It will be the ultimate “inconvenient truth”, and people will need someone to blame. That person will be Margaret Chan, and she knows it.


At 8:58 PM, Anonymous Wayne said...

I doubt if very many Americans know who Margaret Chan is.
Personally I think all this hand wringing over who will or will not get a vaccine simply offers false hope as no vaccine will be effective or effective for long as the virus has now become very complex.
Better for a government to promote proper hand sanitation and finding a supply of effective masks.This will probably save more lives when the pandemic starts.
The way the virus is changing and the humans are dithering we are in danger of being cut off, surrounded and becoming low on ammo.

At 10:03 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...

Hey there Wayne;

I couldn't agree with you more. Very insightful comment. I am really afraid, that regardless of all the headlines and warnings, that this pandemic is going to catch one heckuva lot of unprepared people with their pants down (so to speak).

No danger in some of us being low on ammo...or twinkies.



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