Tuesday, July 08, 2008

July 7 Flu Update

Scientists are saying that closing the Navy Lab in Indonesia is a bad idea.

Big problems with egg prices in Bangladesh, as poultry farming has yet to resume.

Revere blogs Roche's plan to get businesses to stock up on Tamiflu. He thinks its good for businesses to do, but doesn't see why the government has to get involved.


At 6:40 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


No use commenting any more about NMRU-2, Madame Supari, the Indonesian government and endemic bird flu situation there: it takes dealing with rationale, logical, sane and responsible individuals to negotiate acceptable diplomatic and political solutions. In this instance, all of these critical elements are missing.

Big problems with egg prices in Bangladesh, eh ? I would say based on the recent news reports of mysterious infant deaths in the Khulna district, due to suspected “viral encephalitis”( i.e. another unexplained mystery disease situation or misdiagnosis for bird flu), that Bangladesh may have a lot more to worry about the price of eggs. The proximity of these deaths to West Bengal and the government’s warning “not to eat fowl” raises all kinds of speculation and suspicion about what is really transpiring there.

Regarding Revere’s article about Tamiflu, he has done the usual excellent job discussing the topic of corporations buying “insurance policies for sufficient doses of Tamiflu for their employees”, however I see some real storm clouds with this entire approach. That is, not only is this an abrogation of the responsibility of our federal government, and perpetuates the “privatization of public health” by throwing the burden on the public, but it also won’t quite work the way the program is touted: in my view, the expense of purchasing Tamiflu rights for doses will mainly benefit the upper echelons of the corporation, not the front line workers that the program is intended for. Don’t ever think otherwise, as many workers find out the hard way during a crises, most are not deemed “critical for COOP” during a crisis situation. Corporate management structures, including the board of directors, are much akin to a benevolent dictatorship (at most) or oligarchy: those at the top reap the most benefits at the expense of others in the organization and their number one goal is their own survival and their families security. I simply don’t see many of these corporate management structures doling out life saving drugs to their lower level pick-and-shovel employees. Corporate culture doesn’t work that way (otherwise, we would see a lot more executives being laid off or terminated, and you wouldn’t see entire industries and millions of jobs being “off-shored” to cheap sweat shop labor pools). Individual self preservation and greed at the top of the corporate ladder will always overshadow benevolent expectations.

For example, behind the yellow smiley-face of the all-American Wal-Mart (also referred to as "Wal-Marx" or "China-Mart") myth is a company that is the largest foreign importer in the nation. It is the leader in corporate scorched-earth practices. Sam Walton's widow and four children possess assets of $17 billion apiece, according to Forbes magazine, but they do not enable Wal-Mart's million-plus U.S. workers to support themselves. Approximately 60 percent of Wal-Mart's employees in 2008 are currently not covered by the chain's health package. And Wal-Mart is going to make sure its critical employees are provided with Tamiflu – I doubt it. Don't get me wrong, I shop at Wal-Mart like most everyone (for prep's especially), but they are a perfect example of what corporate America has evolved into.

The primary and most strategic way to prepare for a real influenza pandemic is pre-priming the entire population with a viable close match vaccine. A few countries of the world, like Japan and Switzerland, understand this (and the risks) and are preparing to make this critical decision, while there is time. Stockpiles of antivirals are not a primary defense against a pandemic, and they should be considered as the last resort and final bulwark, since they may not work against drug resistant strains. In fact, from what we are already seeing occur with seasonal H3 already expressing alarming resistance, it is reasonable to conclude that it is very likely that H5 will be equally as resistant to antivirals, once it acquires it final humanized mutations.



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