Monday, July 21, 2008

July 20 Flu Update

Britain's House of Lords hears a briefing on lifestyles, infectious disease and the "dysfunctional" WHO--overall, an alarming report that made headlines around the world.

Australia says this report was "unhelpful"

North Korea now claims to have a quick bird flu test.

Report from Thailand says the bird flu mutates every time it infects a human.

Australia article cites how large international religious celebrations often spread contagious disease including influenza.

Swabi Pakistan is bird flu free.

ProMed on the report from Vietnam that vaccinated poultry were getting bird flu. Note mod comment:

Viet Nam has opted for vaccination of poultry (including waterfowl) since 2005, with quite satisfactory results. However, it is known that vaccination cannot achieve disease eradication unless it is combined with effectively applied, severe biosecurity measures.


At 6:22 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


Your two primary articles, the one from Britain which warns, “Disease pandemic inevitable” and describes the WHO as “dysfunctional”, and the Australian response which calls the British House of Lords report “unhelpful”, are most interesting indeed.

In my view, three cheers to the British for exposing the world bird flu situation and threat accurately. Actually, their estimates that the next pandemic “will kill between two million and 50 million people worldwide” and that the “socio-economic disruption will be massive”, is a bit under projected and conservative in my opinion. US internal government scientists, military and medical experts I’ve heard with my own ears believe the estimates could be as high as 10 to 20 times that number, in a most severe worst-case, but they do not want to go on record, for fear of causing unnecessary panic and fear. And of course, the H5N1 virus for example, hasn’t sufficiently mutated yet (as far as we can determine) so as to become “humanized” to cause a world-wide influenza pandemic. They don’t want to be known as crying wolf. When and if a pandemic does manifest into a global threat, it will be the military health specialists located in foreign countries, the Atlanta CDC, State Departments, and the major financial centers of the world (believe it or not), who accurately assess and identify the threat to the public. It won’t be the WHO, they will be the very last to acknowledge a problem.

I repeat: it will not be the UN World Health Organization (WHO) who initially warns the public that the “inevitable threat” of bird flu is “imminent”, or that has actually “emerged and is unstoppable”. The WHO has proven over the last decade that it merely functions as a highly dysfunctional bureaucratic political spending authority that chronicles and categorizes the bird flu reports and information from around the globe. It is no more a predictor of an influenza pandemic or early warning entity, than my family pet. Their pandemic severity index will only be raised under extreme duress and criticism. So far, suffice it to say, there is a total lack of confidence in the WHO’s ability or willingness to warn anybody about anything (except global warming and the ice caps melting).

Yes, a lot has been done in terms of preparation around the world, but even Australia is not prepared enough for what the effects and impacts a pandemic might cause. If they think they are adequately prepared, they are kidding themselves. Third world densely populated countries, like Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand and even China, could easily see 60-70% per cent of their entire populations fall sick, another 5-25% of those die, while watching their economies grind to a halt, while mass starvation and chaos break out, and their hospitals prove helpless as they deplete their pharmaceuticals and supplies within a week or two.

If it takes a grim report from Britain to provide the shock and alarm that will perhaps motivate governments and people around the world to prepare themselves in earnest for the worst, I’m all for it. So far, the WHO and OIE have been less than awe-inspiring. Heck, the CIDRAP and ProMED reports and news articles you post every day Orange, have been more insightful than any WHO information I’ve ever seen – the WHO always seems to be weeks, if not months, late in reporting important information. Countries that we know of that are H5N1 endemic throughout their whole environment, declare themselves “bird flu free” after three months according to WHO guidelines, and they then drop off the radar screen until the next major flare up – what kind of international and national surveillance program is this ? (talk about lack of vision, clarity and coordination – this is a prime example)

As far as I’m concerned, give the Nobel Peace Prize to each one in the British House of Lords, give the Bird-Flu-Booby Prize to Margaret Chan and the WHO politico gang.



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