Monday, October 03, 2005

H5N1 blog is frustrated

Scientists are not politicians. And they darn sure are not all diplomats. Like all professionals they tend to stay on task no matter what the consequences. Without this "Lead, follow or get out of the way" approach scientific advances would come even more slowly than they now do. Twice this week I have come across comments at H5N1 that indicate that they will stick to the mission, even if the world around them erupts in chaos. I am impressed by this stubborn dedication.

The CDC is apparently sitting on important data, not making it available to the world scientific community.

In its Sept. 22 issue, the journal Nature reported widespread concern among influenza researchers that too little flu data collected by the CDC are being made available for research, hindering their efforts to develop flu vaccines.

Dr. Nancy J. Cox, chief of CDC's influenza branch, said the increasing focus on influenza worldwide has brought a deluge of requests for information that the CDC cannot easily accommodate.

"Given the sheer volume of such requests, we have had to make hard choices about how to respond because we do not have the capacity to comply with all requests while also meeting our other public health responsibilities," she said in a written response to questions.

One unnamed National Institutes of Health researcher told Nature that, other than the occasional large deposits of data required by journals to accompany published papers, information from CDC is "coming through an eye dropper."

Influenza researchers said their work would progress faster if they could access the disease control agency's databases of virus sequences and immunological and epidemiological data.

The blogmaster comments:
When major scientific institutions in the US are under the control and direction of the wonderful folks who brought you New Orleans, Baghdad, and intelligent design, we have more to worry about than sick chickens.

It reminds me of yesterday's response to the terrorist attack in Indonesia.
While I deeply sympathize with the Indonesians about the latest bombings in Bali, it's frustrating that The Jakarta Post has completely dropped the avian-flu story for the time being. If anyone can point me to another good English-language Indonesian news source, I'd be grateful.

I have worked around some very effective people in my life. Whether in business, medicine or politics, the most productive people are those who don't mince words when they are focused on solving a problem. (I even saw the same quality, believe it or not, during an armed robbery. At least four people were involved, but the one in charge was directing every move. One nervous novice wanted to take a box of rolled coins but the more experienced criminal knew that the weight of the coins was not worth the risk of toting it, so they stuck with the paper money.)

Real life is not like the scenes we see dramatized on television. The professionals know when to be nice, but if being nice stands in the way of getting the job done, get ready to have your feeling hurt.

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