United States Poorly Prepared for Avian Flu Pandemic

October 09 15:29 2005 Print This Article

What a surprise

WASHINGTON, October 9 – An official document obtained by the New York Times this week exposes a shameful threat to national health. The document which has been confirmed authentic by the Department of Health but was only a draft, not a final product. None the less it exposes a very potent threat to the U.S., the government has failed to properly prepare for a worldwide outbreak of the avian flu. For now the avian flu has only spread among Asian countries and the southern region of Russia, mostly killing millions of birds but also claiming a few human casualties along the way. So far 65 people have died because of this dreaded H5N1 virus.

The document revealed that an outbreak of this disease could take place in a few months to even a few weeks from the original outbreak in Asia. Modern traveling makes this very easily possible and the symptoms are much alike to the normal human influenza, not uncommon around these days. Severe measures like quarantines and travel restrictions are believed to only delay the spread to a maximum of two months but total avoidance is impossible.

The government took way too long to decide on the purchase of Tamiflu, an influenza vaccine that has a pretty high success rate when it comes to the avian flu. Decision making on the order of this pharmaceutical product has taken so long that other countries queued up in line at Roche, the manufacturer, and now the U.S. is not even likely to receive their order within one year. If they would have ordered earlier, when the issue first arose, they could have expected delivery of a big part of the order in early 2006.

Worrying issues also involve expected riots at vaccine clinics when the pandemic breaks out. Even power and food supplies could be affected as the public life would screech to a halt. Casualty rate could go up to several million American citizens with hundreds of millions hospitalized. The national health system would be overloaded and the total cost of this disaster could go well over $500 billion.

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