Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 15 Flu Update

Bird flu outbreak reported in southern Vietnam.

Reports says research from the Argonne national lab has identified the "dragon" protein which has the potential to be significant, as stated below.

This unexpected relationship between the two subunits could inspire a number of different therapies or vaccines for H5N1 that rely on muzzling the "dragon's" jaws with another molecule or chemical compound that would block the PB1 subunit's access to the PA site, according to Joachimiak. "If we can put a bit in the dragon's mouth, we can slow or even potentially someday stop the spread of avian flu," he said. "Since we are talking about a relatively small protein surface area, finding a way to inhibit RNA replication in H5N1 seems very feasible."

CIDRAP reports that Indonesia published an article in a medical journal on why it is withholding virus samples.

"If the world continues to operate in this way, the discrepancies will become wider and wider," the article says. "The poor will become poorer and the richer become richer. It is the responsibility of all nations to change this situation."
SE Idaho is conducting a "blog exercise" to test informing the public on bird flu.

Indiana is doing some pandemic planning, taking a hard look at the realities.


At 7:29 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


I find the CIDRAP article which details Indonesia’s “rationale” for refusing to provide or share H5N1 samples, pretty flimsy and somewhat confusing. Maybe their weak logic is meant to obfuscate the precarious economic and poverty issues which Indonesia faces. Of course, nobody buys their argument that, “if the world continues to operate in this way, the discrepancies will become wider and wider… the poor will become poorer and richer become richer. It is the responsibility of all nations to change this situation”. Is there a law of nature or mathematical theorem that Supari knows which the rest of us overlooked ? Simply put, their position they keep putting forth is a world class “entitlement mentality”, that most people with an IQ above 45, have difficulty with.

The responsibility of any nation to improve the economic and social well being of its citizens and constituent’s, squarely falls on the shoulders of its government and its cultural and social systems. The fact is: the 50-year-old tradition of free sharing of influenza viruses through the WHO, has no connection whatsoever with social or economic level of a any nation’s GNP or their citizen’s wealth (or poverty). To assert there is (or even should be) a connection by tying “benefits” via a quid pro quo arrangement involving money, is just plain irresponsible, repugnant and ignorant. Further, Indonesian Health Minister Supari’s numerous attempts at purposely politicizing and polarizing the issue with her zealous religious citizens and political leaders, is equally as distasteful.

Simply, Indonesia is not providing or sharing H5N1 samples, because if they were to do so, basic scientific analysis would indicate the phenomenal number of different sub-clades or strains that are actually circulating and percolating around in the island nation. The samples would also give a clear indirect indication how poorly their management of the virus has been over the last five years, and how pervasive it actually is embedded into the total environment. It would make her and her health department cronies, the entire government and religion, look bad. It would also wreck their number one industry – tourism – bucket full’s of money coming in from “rich” western travelers, which they are addicted to.

Oh well, another thought is that we seem to be able to buy off despotic governments, like North Korea, Pakistan and Iran (if we raise the price tag high enough), in order to keep them from proliferating nuclear weapons, so why not do the same for Indonesia and H5N1 ? Hey, currently the largest transfer of western wealth in the history of the world is transpiring via oil payments made by the US to the Mid-East petroleum countries, why not re-channel a little chump-change for Indonesia ?



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