Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Why aren't we making these kinds of preparations?

At least one country is preparing for the avian flu:

A FLU pandemic that could kill between 5,000 and 50,000 people in Scotland is inevitable, the country’s chief medical officer said yesterday. Amid fears a new strain of Asian bird flu could develop into a worldwide epidemic, UK and Scottish ministers have set out contingency plans to deal with the impact of a virus spreading to Scotland. Andy Kerr, the health minister, said £15 million is to be spent over the next two years on stockpiling 1.2 million courses of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu - enough to treat a quarter of the population. But anti-viral drugs can only reduce the severity of symptoms. Developing a vaccine could not start until the new strain of flu has emerged. In the meantime experts have outlined practical plans to slow the flu’s spread through infected people sneezing or coughing, such as advising against travel, closing schools and cancelling football matches and pop concerts. On the advice of the World Health Organisation, Scotland is planning for a quarter of the population to be affected by the new flu, with 0.37 per cent of those dying. This would mean a death toll of 5,000 people. But Dr Mac Armstrong, the chief medical officer, said Scotland must prepare for the worst - up to 50,000 deaths. "Experts believe a new pandemic strain of flu is likely to spread rapidly across the globe and around one in four people in the UK could be affected," he said. "Without medical countermeasures, the number of deaths in the UK resulting from pandemic flu could range from 50,000 to an upper estimate of 500,000. That translates to between 5,000 and 50,000 potential deaths in Scotland."
Our own CDC (Centers for Disease Control) does not seem to be planning for a possible pandemic. Instead, if you go here, you simply see a dry report that basically advises being aware of the possibility that some patients might present with it, and advising what amounts to quarantine treatment. If people are falling by the tens of thousands to a disease with a 75% mortality rate, these minimalist precautions are going to be meaningless.