Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 28 Flu Update

With four new cases and two bird flu deaths over the weekend, there are now 100 deaths in Indonesia. (CIDRAP).

With the 100th death in Indonesia, an expert says bird flu there is "out of control"

This article says no further spread of bird flu in West Bengal

A new case is described here, however.

CIDRAP looks at the spread of cases around the world.

The US has offered to help West Bengal.

Panic is breaking out in areas near West Bengal.

Birds bought from neighbouring West Bengal being buried alive.

Bangladesh is taking measures to prevent bird flu spread.

The US government is helping Bangladesh combat the bird flu.

As Tamiflu resistance in Europe is announced, GSK, the maker of Tamiflu, accepts the study, and the notion that governments would be wise to stockpile more than one anti-viral.

A needle-less flu vaccine......under the tongue.

Even with 50% absenteeism, firms in financial services are confident they can weather a pandemic.

Canada is helping owners of backyard poultry.


At 6:18 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


After reviewing today’s news articles from India, Bangladesh and Indonesia, describing their dismal state of bird flu threat management – one has to wonder – which one is going to have the distinction of the next pandemic named after them ? Seems like things may be heading in that direction, since the outbreaks are beginning to appear continuous and permanent in nature, and not just attributable to “seasonal” fluctuation (the classic WHO explanation).

On the topic of Tamiflu resistance, I guess I’m in the camp of Henry Niman: seems kind of puzzling that everyone is taken aback by the sudden discovery of viral resistance to the drug, especially when it’s being used wholesale to blanket large areas of the world. Regardless of this seemingly “dramatic” development, I just don’t see many countries expanding their large stockpiles with Relenza (zanamivir) at this time, primarily due to the huge expense involved. I’ll bet GSK is going to welcome European guidance on the subject, though – ka-ching $, ka-ching $ - I think this is one company that stands to milk the cash-cow big time, especially if the viral resistance keeps increasing against Oseltamivir, which it should naturally do.

The really dramatic and concerning aspect of the Tamiflu resistance news story from the EMEA that seems to surprise every one (not me), is the absolute swiftness which seasonal influenza viruses, like H1N1, seem to have mutated by acquiring the H274Y protein. Also equally alarming, but coincidental, is the curious fact that H1N1 is the same virus that caused the Great Pandemic of 1918. Very few if any people, have any natural immunity these days against H1N1. Wouldn’t it be ironical if H5N1 recombines or reassorts with Type H1 (or H3, H7, H9 for that matter) to cause the next pandemic – history does repeat itself – so they say.

My final comment has to do with the US Treasury report which expresses confidence that the financial services industry will be able to continue delivering essential services to customers during an influenza pandemic. My opinion is that their conclusions are highly doubtful and I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it. The three week pandemic test which the financial services sector practiced, did not take into account the complicated and intricate interdependencies of other critical infrastructure sectors, for example: the electrical grid, transportation, fuel supplies and the internet. Without electricity and internet connectivity – just for one simple example – the entire financial industry would quickly fall to its knees. And of course, without adequate medical care, far more than 50% of employees (every where) probably would not show up for work for extended periods of time. Rolling blackouts ? We have them now in the summer time with full healthy workforces in place – imagine what kind of severe electrical interruptions we will have when a large portion of electrical utility workers are out ill (or dying). Our entire just-in-time entire economy, which is so dependent on overseas deliveries and many other things, would probably start grinding its gears within a few weeks of a 1918 repeat.

Rule number one to remember when it comes to pandemic COOP planning: a deadly virus will not discriminate between the infrastructure critical sectors of any society (or even countries for that matter). It will strike all of them simultaneously like wildfires, and sector resiliency is impossible to pre-determine. A pandemic will not be a localized or specific to any one industry or geographic locale, and its duration will be far longer than three pathetic weeks.

A simple study of world history tells us that.



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