W. David Stephenson blogs on homeland security et al. brings us this really cheerful prediction about avian flu from the Boston Globe:
”We’re not going to have much warning,” [WHO Scientist Dr. Michael] Ryan said. ”One day, two days, maybe three, if we are extremely lucky. Once contagious among humans, the virus will spread like a tsunami. There will be the flash point — probably in Asia, perhaps somewhere else — followed by waves of infection that would hurtle around the world.”
It could be awful:
In worst-case scenarios based on extrapolations from the 1918 outbreak, some epidemiologists predict that a pandemic spawned by bird flu could kill 140 million people in a matter of months, and sicken so many hundreds of millions that some governments and national economies would collapse.
Or it could just be really really bad:
The World Health Organization is urging countries to brace for a ”mild to moderate” pandemic likely to kill 2 million to 7.4 million people, according to Ryan.
”We need to steer away from worst-case scenarios or we’ll end up like deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck, too terrified to move,” he said. ”We need preparation, not panic.”
I’m with the “really, really bad” camp. I’m not so sure that predictions like the first couple are something that people in the so called “first world” should be personally concerned about. The world has changed alot since 1918; I don’t think there are nearly so many people who are vulnerable to the flu to the point of death, at least in this country, and other countries with relatively good general overall health.
It is going to be serious, very serious, and lots of people will probably die — but not to the point of collapsing any first world government. It will probably take down many unstable countries, and people who are already suffering will suffer even more — alot more. But this kind of talk will cause Americans (and maybe others, but Americans for sure) to think all the talk about Bird Flu is useless hyperbole. Government collapse? From the Flu?! There’s going to be almost no way to convince people to do anything to prepare for any kind of pandemic. Of course, preparing to help the rest of the world is also a no-go in the US right now.
I think the best way to get any preparation at all in the US is probably to really play up the very yucky symptoms, how much more severe it is than the regular flu, how long it will last, etc…etc…
It would be nice if most countries would just be generally prepared for health emergencies…You know, where to get supplies for large numbers of people for all kinds of diseases and disasters. Wouldn’t it be great if every country had crack teams of emergency physicians with backpacks full of treatment supplies, ready to deploy in case of events like a flu pandemic or a Katrina-style disaster? You know, like Cuba does?
But I’m just divorcing myself from expecting any sort of good deeds or preparation from our government, or really any current US government. Preparations? Here? Don’t get your hopes up. Why? Because our government always does the opposite of the right thing to do. And doing anything for other countries? Forget it.
I’m a little rambly today — but all these dire predictions just get a bit under my skin & I wanted to get some of my thoughts out on “paper” about the whole thing.