Thursday, December 01, 2005

Yet another look at bird flu

Bird flu reading is making me tired. I want to say Let's get on with it and get this pandemic on the road. The speculation among experts is as tedious as a 200-item blog comment thread.
Tyler Cowen is trustworthy. (I think he's one of the Volokh conspirators; check the sidebar for CV) He points to this report from the American Enterprise Institute worth reading.

Since pandemic planning has become the rage, most organizations involved have adopted their pet disease model to help guide their preparedness and response decision-making processes. The biggest problem is that few of these models are any good. Some of them mistakenly lead policymakers into believing that it will be possible to contain an outbreak of pandemic influenza through
the use of antiviral medications and vaccines delivered to those identified at risk by epidemiological contact tracing and geographical location.[5] What is not immediately obvious to the algebraically challenged is that in order for the outbreak to be “ringed,” or contained, half of all first-generation infections need to be identifiedwithin the first twenty-four to thirty-six hours of transmission. Anyone with clinical experience knows that it is impossible to do this--in any health care setting in the developed world, let alone the developing world.
As a result of nearly a century of technological development since the 1918 pandemic, surveillance and response capacity is now fairly good in some countries. The world no longer needs to wait for all health assistance to come from the United States or Western Europe. The ability to identify and treat disease now flows from regional fonts of expertise. That is not to say that international cooperation will not be necessary in a future pandemic; it will just be easier to implement by interfacing with regional medical and health centers.

Lots of good stuff here. Quick reading, but still time-consuming.
Everyone's time is precious, so I guess print it off, take it to the loo, and leave it for somebody else when you're through.

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