Tuesday, July 01, 2008

June 30 Flu Update

Pacific Rim countries are preparing for bird flu exercises, right after the Olympics.

Australia is told--and not for the first time--that bird flu can't get there.

Immunologist and Nobel prize-winner Peter Doherty says although the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain has killed 240 people overseas, Australia's dry climate and isolation will help prevent the virus entering the country.

"It's not something we have to worry about," he said.

An organization of state health officers has released a report on protecting at-risk populations, because "disasters discriminate."

Japan's bird flu plans are described as "unclear."

CIDRAP on the Hong Kong market curbs.

CIDRAP best practices series reviews Minnesota's plans to communicate with people who speak limited English.


At 6:22 PM, Blogger Wulfgang said...


It’s very nice to see Japan, China and S. Korea forming a strategic alliance to conduct pandemic preparation drills. Comparatively speaking, this is quite similar I believe to the North American alliance and agreement between the USA, Canada and Mexico. The big difference is: to my knowledge, the N. American alliance exists only on paper and no integrated bird flu preparation drills or exercises have ever been funded, conducted, or even scheduled, to my knowledge. This makes a person wonder how effective the N. American plan really is, and if it’s even workable.

As far as the bird flu being “unlikely” to reach Australia…well, that’s a real chuckle. Whether the article is simply referring to “birds” and not a human pandemic is unclear, but the lessons and history of the Great Influenza of 1918/1919, say’s no country is impervious to an influenza pandemic. Once a novel influenza goes “human”, international air travel alone almost ensures that it is spread worldwide in a matter of a few days or a week or two.

I find your “Daily Yomiuri Online” Japanese article quite intriguing also. The Japanese government approach to bird flu pandemic preparation planning has probably turned out to be the most pragmatic and practical of any country in the world: they already are honing in on the troublesome facts that the pandemic vaccine production time must be as short as possible and must be at a volume sufficient enough for the entire population. They also are planning on stockpiling enough anti-viral’s in a strategic national stockpile for 50% of their population. What’s most important is that their government is willing to sufficiently fund the necessary initiatives – even the new cell cultivation technology.

And best of all, the Japanese realize that they will have to “deal with an outbreak without necessary authority”. Try driving that novel concept home here in the US and you get blank stares: “what, me be responsible?”. Our approach to pandemic preparation in the US is bogged down with endless PPE mask effectiveness discussions, unresolved antiviral and vaccine priorities, HHS proposals and public comment exercises (ad nauseam), and a disparate patchwork of multi-state pandemic preparation plans.

Fortunately for all of us, no pandemic has surfaced yet. I am absolutely convinced that if a confirmed pandemic broke out next week is the IndoChinaAsia region, there would be immediate panic and chaos beyond belief in North America. If anyone thinks the price of gas is high now, or the stock market is at an all time low… what does anyone think would really happen if a deadly influenza on the order of 1918 suddenly emerges ?

Commodities would sky rocket in price (immediately double or triple) and the financial markets would tank beyond belief. The current housing market crash would seem like kids play.



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