Sunday, October 31, 2004
( 3:15 PM )
Sigh...it's always worse than they tell us...
So, the World Health Organization is calling an uprecedented summit this week of flu vaccine makers to discuss the coming flu pandemic.
With increasing signs that bird flu is becoming established in Asia and several worrisome human cases that can't be linked directly to exposure to infected poultry, it's only a matter of time until such a virus adapts itself to spread more easily from person to person and cause a severe worldwide outbreak, he said.
"We believe that we are closer to the next pandemic than we ever were," Stohr said Sunday in an interview before a speech at an American Society for Microbiology meeting in Washington, D.C.
Flu kills about 36,000 people in the United States and a million worldwide each year by conservative estimates, Stohr said. But tens of millions die in a pandemic, which occurs every 20 to 30 years, when a flu strain changes so dramatically that people have little immunity from previous flu bouts.
There were three pandemics in the 20th century; all spread worldwide within a year of being detected.
So, instead of having competition between many flu vaccine manufacturers, we have a monopoly that has failed us. Instead of having a national health system to handle national health emergencies, we have a system based solely on what you can pay and how much influence you have. Instead of being prepared to deal with something that kills 12 times as many people a year than were killed in 9/11, our leadership was more concerned with granting favors to pharmaceutical companies.
Please cough into your sleeve this season.