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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic

Huh? This article makes it sound like it’s...

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nettie4263 View Drop Down
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    Posted: April 04 2006 at 7:22am
all over!  (Is it?  Please tell me that it is...)
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Corn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 04 2006 at 7:38am
Article from link above.......
 
The 'Pandemic of Fear' Theory Has Been Deflated By New Figures
Apr 04, 06:37 AM

By Paul Riddell

SO, IN the worst-case scen-ario, the "true" death toll from an influenza pandemic in Britain could be more than 700,000. This figure, contained in a confidential Cabinet Office briefing paper obtained by our political editor, James Kirkup, assumes a mortality rate of 2.5 per cent - much higher than the 0.37 per cent suggested by the Department of Health's influenza pandemic contingency plan that puts the estimated death toll at 53,700.

The Cabinet Office memo is a more realistic reflection of the expectations of virologists who study influenza, not least because it is in line with the experience of the 1918-19 pandemic, which killed between 50 and 100 million people worldwide.

How odd, then, that the Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, should have been accused last year by the academic Frank Furedi of scaremongering when the updated pandemic contingency plan was published.

Furedi declared: "Tragically, what we are faced with today is not so much a pandemic of a deathly virus but a pandemic of fear. Sir Liam knows that when he says that a flu pandemic is inevitable he will never be proved wrong ... It appears that issuing warnings has become an alternative to sensible public health policies."

FUREDI'S attack was part of his thesis, expanded upon in his book Politics of Fear, that politicians are no longer able to come up with big ideas - is that what we really expect of them? - and instead resort to scaring people by highlighting risks that bear little relation to common experience. So, runs this notion, they have a vested interest in exaggerating crime rates, the likelihood of attack by terrorists and the chance of succumbing to a deadly virus.

What is clear now is that, if anything, the government has been playing down rather than exaggerating the potential impact of an influenza pandemic. Pandemics occurred in 1729, 1732, 1781, 1830, 1833, 1889, 1918-19, 1957 and 1968. Viruses do not stop evolving any more than humans do, so on this basis we are due another pandemic.

Equally, the H5N1 virus (bird flu, as it is unnecessarily named - all pandemic viruses come from birds) shares many of the characteristics of the H1N1 virus that caused the 1918-19 outbreak. Yes, H5N1 has so far only killed 105 humans out of 186 infected, but should it mutate to enable easy human-to-human transmission, the consequences could be horrendous.

Is Furedi really suggesting that governments, with a moral responsibility to protect their people, should just ignore even the possibility that this might happen? That ministers should just bury their heads in the sand and hope the threat will vanish?

THE irony of all this is that it now looks as if the expected pandemic will not in fact be caused by H5N1 at all. Last week, I went to a conference at Edinburgh's august Royal College of Physicians, where Professor John Oxford, one of Britain's foremost virologists, suggested that interventionist measures taken to tackle H5N1 in birds, including mass culling and vaccination, may, for the first time in the history of influenza, have succeeded in limiting the virus's spread sufficiently to snuff it out as a threat to humans.

Other scientists believe that H5N1 remains an infection of the lower respiratory tract in humans rather than the upper airways, where it can be passed on through coughing or sneezing, although they concede that this could change with mutation.

But Professor Oxford's suggestion should not be regarded as vindication for Furedi's argument. Without the widespread understanding of the nature of the influenza virus that repeated warnings from scientists have engendered, politicians would not have allocated the resources required for intervention in the first place. Sir Liam knows that it is not inevitable that he will never be proved wrong. Indeed, it is safe to say that, pace Professor Oxford, he positively hopes he will be proved wrong. That should amount to the definition of a sensible public health policy. And there will be no brownie points for the politicians.

Fear can, as Aeschylus observed, make us weak. But it is part of the human condition. Without it, we would not have evolved as we have done; had our ancestors been fearless, they would not have survived.

Speculation is the only tool we have with a threat that can circle the globe in 30 days. Test results&news is slow.Factor in human conditions,politics, money&bingo!The truth!Facts come after the fact.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Trident/Delta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 04 2006 at 7:40am
Hi Nettie,
 
Tis articleis focused at the "pandemic of fear" campaign that has been focused by naysayers that the pandemic is overblown and that it is nothing. The article states that the figures published by the UK Ministry of Health are finally reflecting what could be reality.  Previously , the MoH was stating that in its worst case, UK would have about 53-54K deaths. The new fiigures set the potential at 700k dead (quite a jump).
 
Actually I think that the naysayers are starting to see all of their arguments ground to dust as being specious and hollow.
 
T/D
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote nettie4263 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 04 2006 at 7:48am
I was talking about this segment
 
"THE irony of all this is that it now looks as if the expected pandemic will not in fact be caused by H5N1 at all. Last week, I went to a conference at Edinburgh's august Royal College of Physicians, where Professor John Oxford, one of Britain's foremost virologists, suggested that interventionist measures taken to tackle H5N1 in birds, including mass culling and vaccination, may, for the first time in the history of influenza, have succeeded in limiting the virus's spread sufficiently to snuff it out as a threat to humans."
 
 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Corn Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 04 2006 at 7:52am
slowing down the enevitable would be an more accurate statment.
Speculation is the only tool we have with a threat that can circle the globe in 30 days. Test results&news is slow.Factor in human conditions,politics, money&bingo!The truth!Facts come after the fact.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 04 2006 at 10:59am
Only time will tell. However, despite all the culling, H5N1 is racing across the globe.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote seesthelight Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: April 04 2006 at 5:07pm
Sadly, it does not look like the threat from H5N1 is over to me....i wish I could say it was and believe it, ...but I can't.
 
I am convinced the worst is yet to come. But only time will tell as femvet said.
 
read this:
 
UN's flu point man says H5N1 has spread to 30 new countries

Press Trust of India

Beijing, April 4, 2006
google news:
 

The H5N1 bird flu virus has spread at lightning speed since January, infecting birds in 30 new countries, the UN's bird flu point man said on Tuesday.

"During the last three months globally, there has been an enormous and rapid spread of H5N1," Dr David Nabarro, the UN's chief coordinator for avian influenza, told reporters in Beijing. "This is really a serious global situation."

Thirty new countries and territories in Africa, Europe, the Indian subcontinent and the Middleeast have reported infections in birds this year, he said. That rapid acceleration compares with the previous two and half years, when only 15 countries -- mostly in Asia -- reported the deadly strain of bird flu.

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