Saturday, September 17, 2005

Avian Flu vs. Dept of HHS

ABC News reports at length about the avian-flu concerns, and according to their story, the concerns are quite grave. The avian flu has killed 55% of the people who contract it; there is no vaccine, and the potential for significant disruption both in the USA and worldwide is present.

There is a flu remedy, however, called Tamiflu. It works.

Since the manufacturer, Roche, sells Tamiflu to governments on a first-come, first-served basis, one would expect that the US Department of Health and Human Services (formerly run by Tommy Thompson) would have stepped up and ordered a bunch of the stuff.


We have about 2 million doses. Great Britain has ordered enough for a quarter of their population; Australia has 3.5 million doses.

"Do we wish we had ordered it sooner and more of it? I suspect one could say yes," admits Leavitt [currently the Secretary, HHS.] "Are we moving rapidly to assure that we have it? The answer is also yes."

When asked why the United States did not place its orders for Tamiflu sooner, Leavitt replied, "I can't answer that. I don't know the answer to that."

Even leading Republicans in Congress say the Bush administration has not handled the planning for a possible flu epidemic well.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., says the current Tamiflu stockpile of 2 million could spell disaster.

"That's totally inadequate. Totally inadequate today," says Frist, who is also a physician. "The Tamiflu is what people would go after. It's what you're going to ask for, I'm going to ask for, immediately."

Is this a clear and present danger? Clear, yes. Present? Not quite yet.

"It isn't going to happen tomorrow, but if it happened the day after that, we would not be in as good as a position as we will be in six months," he [Leavitt] says.

However, in the end, even the country's top health officials concede that a killer flu epidemic this winter would make the scenes of Katrina pale in comparison.

"You know, I was down in New Orleans in that crowded airport now a couple weeks ago," Frist says. "And this could be not just equal to that, but many multiple times that. Hundreds of people laid out, all dying, because there was no therapy. And a lot of people don't realize for this avian flu virus, there will be very little effective therapy available early on."

As we recall, Tommy Thompson was telling us all to lose weight. That will not be helpful.

1 comment:

Neo-Con Tastic said...

Yeah a few of us were talking about this avian flu. The worst part is the quick spread of the illness. It's an airborne virus that is extremely easy to get and when the flu gets over here, we are all in big trouble. Apparently it's in Asia right now but expected to be in New York (tourism level high) within a couple of months. Lock your doors and wash your hands!

I will say this, I've heard alot of these scares that fizzled into nothing. This proving that ABC News and 20/20 are scaring people into ratings. SARS is a perfect example and that other monkey disease too, I forgot the name.