Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The 7.1 Billion Dollar Panic

“President” Bush yesterday outlined a plan that will protect Americans from bird flu. Thank you, George, you’re my fucking hero.

Meanwhile, “Defense” Secretary Rumsfeld has declined to sell his shares in Gilead Sciences, which owns the patent for the drug Tamiflu, saying instead that he won’t participate in government while it is dealing with issues connected with bird flu. Well, it is easy to understand his decision because he has already made about $1 million and stands to make quite a bit more while the American population panics over an imaginary pandemic. And we have known for a long time already that Rumsfeld has no sense of ministerial responsibility.

A major mutation of a flu strain occurs about once every 10 years. It’s bloody normal. A pandemic occurs every 30 to 40 years. Over 500,000 Americans died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919. So far about 60 people have died of bird flu, none of them in the Americas.

Apparently, if the current H5N1 strain of bird flu mutates so that it can be passed from human to human, no existing vaccine will protect us. Tamiflu is but a treatment for normal human flu, not bird flu, and it if has any effect on bird flu at all, it will be minimal.

So take your vitamins, wash your hands before you eat, don’t play with fucking chickens, and don’t listen to W because he has no idea what he is talking about.


Skeeter said...

and you saw how Teddy "Chapaquidic" Kennedy and Hillary Clinton got up immediately and said $7.1 Billion isn't even close to what needs to be spent, and W's plan isn't enough, much more needs to be done.
Thats how it works. Both branches of the Republocrat party work against you, sucking you dry.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

Okay, okay, I can’t resist. I’ve something to say about this too.

First of all, as you all know, I have the utmost respect for my sis’ intellect; she is truly one of the brightest people I’ve ever known and her knowledge/pursuit of it, has always been inspiring (okay, deflate your head now, MM, don’t get carried away) to me. I’m constantly amazed by the breadth of her knowledge and I’ve always held her in high regard.

That being said, the current stench of forced-flatus in this post was overwhelming. I’m sorry, dear, but, in regard to the avian flu virus, you appear to be thinking with your anti-Bush heart rather than your normally well-tuned mind. You’ve really missed the mark on this one.

Roughly 60 people, worldwide, have died from the H5N1 avian “bird flu” virus, this much you state correctly.
However, the mere fact that the virus has been passed from birds to humans, regardless of the number of cases or fatalities, or the manner of contact, represents at least ‘Phase 3’ (and possibly ‘Phase 4’) in the WHO “Stages of Pandemic” (and represents a “Pandemic Alert”). George Bush didn’t make this shit up; he probably doesn’t even understand it. “Pandemic Alert” is serious business.
Especially when the virus is spread by not only farmed/domestic birds and pigs but by migratory birds across the globe. You can cull domestic birds, but it’s a lot tougher to control migratory bird populations. And, of course, there is no way to prevent the intermingling of, say, migratory wild bird populations and domestic and/or farmed species of birds (the virus can be present in both water and wind-blown soils).
But the fact that there has been a spread, of any kind, of this influenza A virus from animals to humans represents, historically, a very real danger. In fact, the 1957-1958 and 1968-1969 American pandemics are known to have been caused by viruses containing a combination of genes from a human influenza virus and an avian influenza virus. Additionally, the 1918-1919 pandemic to which you refer most likely began as an avian virus. And, at some point, it likely had only killed 60 or so worldwide.

The greatest danger is for a human, infected with a common strain of influenza A virus, to then contract H5N1. This could very easily result in mutation and create a novel subtype that could spread quickly from human to human. This is a very real danger, not created politically, and not unprecedented in any way. This is, in fact, the definition of an influenza pandemic. Such a scenario could bring humans into the fray as the “mixing vessel” for the new subtype, a subtype for which, as you aptly note, there would be no vaccine.

However, this does not in any way make vaccines, like Tamiflu, unnecessary. If the greatest danger is of humans “recombining” more conventional influenza A viruses and the H5N1 avian virus, acting, if you will, as the aforementioned “mixing vessel,” then it would follow that vaccinating humans against the known influenza A viruses would aid greatly in mitigating the risk of creating a very dangerous hybrid form of influenza A virus. Simply, the very first step in helping to avoid a legitimate flu pandemic would be to vaccinate populations against influenza strains other than H5N1. And, incidentally, Tamiflu is seen as a possible treatment for H5N1 in humans, not as a vaccine.

Also, vaccinating the public would serve as an early defense against pandemic because it would greatly aid first responders/front line health care workers in distinguishing between cases of avian-related A strains and normal, seasonal, outbreaks.

Ideally, if a seasonal vaccine proves potent, then vaccinated individuals showing signs of influenza could be a very helpful early indicator of expedited spread of another strain.
And let’s not forget that the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-1919 may have killed 675,000 in the U.S., but it killed between 40 and 50 million worldwide. The aggressive quarantining and masking of the U.S. population had everything to do with effectively (relative to the rest of the world) combating the mutated virus.

And, in the U.S., citizens were not happy about government-imposed quarantines. Libertarians, of course, insisted that laws mandating the use of 4-ply gauze masks over the nose and mouth were “unconstitutional.” Of course, the government, and the military, upon whose bases the strain first began spreading, were accused of overreacting, even after they had largely been proven correct. Similarly, the pandemics of 1957-1958 and 1968-1969 were minimized, relative to 1918-1919 anyway, by swift local and federal government action. When you consider the U.S.’ phenomenal track record in dealing with the influenza pandemics of modern history, it seems perhaps foolish to so easily discount the notions of those who are, ultimately, acting on the recommendations of the WHO and the CDC.

With H5N1-infected migratory birds now showing up in British Columbia, and other parts of Canada too, it is undeniable that bird-flu is spreading across the world and threatens North America. And with human cases of contraction on record, there is little certainty regarding what will happen next. ANYONE claiming to be able to predict the spread of influenza A viruses is mistaken; the viruses are, inherently, incredibly unpredictable. There is simply no way of assuring that the virus will or won’t mutate, will or won’t become a pandemic, will or won’t respond to treatment, etc. Even the world’s foremost experts are baffled to some degree.

Either MM is the world’s pre-eminent expert on H5N1 or she’s politicizing an influenza strain, I’ll let the readers decide.
But, if you’re interested in more information, organized and disseminated by the world’s actual experts on the subject, check the WHO or CDC web sites.

I’m not going to argue on behalf of any ridiculous spending allotments or personal profiteering, that’s for sure, but to politicize a phase 3/phase 4 pandemic alert might just be going a little far.

Sorry, MM, but your take on H5N1 is greatly lacking.

Devastatin' Dave said...

I think we should go to Defcon 3. Let's do it for the children.

Monkey's Max said...

Asshole said, "First of all, as you all know, I have the utmost respect for my sis’ intellect; she is truly one of the brightest people I’ve ever known and her knowledge/pursuit of it, has always been inspiring (okay, deflate your head now, MM, don’t get carried away) to me. I’m constantly amazed by the breadth of her knowledge and I’ve always held her in high regard."

That was my favourite part. Thanks, Brother.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

No, we should just start culling the children now to save ourselves.

Anonymous A-Hole said...


Yeah, I figured you'd get all big-headed about that part.

Monkey's Max said...

So far the only people that have contracted avian flu have been handling and/or living with the birds who infected them. I am not worried because I live with a Monkey.

I know Tamiflu is not a vaccine. I said in my post that it "is but a treatment for normal human flu". It is absolutely ridiculous that people and governments are buying it by the boatload.

The H5N1 strain has not yet mutated so that it can be passed from human to human. It may eventually do so, and it may not.

W is irresponsible because, among other transgressions, he is perpetuating an as yet needless panic. In the process he is enriching Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State George Schultz and former California Governor Pete Wilson's wife, among other people. Just another case of take from the average citizen and give to your rich cronies.

Monkey's Max said...

Asshole, my head isn't really that big.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

I can lend you some of my XL hats if you need.

Monkey's Max said...

Asshole, I chanced upon this article this morning and it is one of the most sensible things I have read about avian flu. Please stop buying into the panic.

Experts dismiss scare over bird flu

Anonymous A-Hole said...

I'm not "buying into the panic."

There is no denying that this is phase 3/phase 4. I've taken the time to educate myself and am comfortable with the information I've gleaned.

Anonymous A-Hole said...

But, out of curiousity, I checked your link. Interesting site.

However, the "experts" referred to in the article consist of exactly one veternarian, and one U.S. internist, hardly a distinguished panel of medical experts. Sorry.

Additionally, the article makes no mention whatsoever of the "mixing vessel" phenomenon. As of yet, no human has contracted the H5N1 strain while already infected with another influenza A strain. When that begins happening, which it will in Asia soon, we'll know much, much more and begin to understand the possible mutations.

But the most important thing to take take from this is that ANYONE, expert or not, claiming to able to predict this is an absolute quack (no pun intended, of course).

The true experts on this subject will tell you that preparing and planning for a pandemic is a good idea because influenza is so very unpredictable. You should be exceptionally leery of anyone that predicts that either a) a pandemic is coming or b) a pandemic is not coming.

It's as simple as that; it's not predictable and nobody knows what will happen for sure. So, please excuse some people if they prepare for the possibility of it happening.

Don't worry though, people claimed I was "drinking the kool-aid" when I warned of an impending revolt by unassimilated muslims in western Europe. I was obviously way off base.

Anonymous said...

so, i guess we don't have to worry about AIDS anymore. what a relief. i don't know about the rest of you but i've had indiscretionary sex with more than one person. my contacts with ill fowl: 0. wow, people might die from disease. i never knew.
peace and love,
Dan Carey

Audie said...

I'm still in hiding, waiting for the nightmare that, for all I know (and assume), was called "Y2K." Is the madness over yet? Please inform.

And as far as the flu goes, I've got some Nyquil in my stash. That shit'll kill anything. Booyeah!

Audie said...

I second Skeeter's comment above, btw. Can anyone stop the insanity?

Anonymous said...

I think the bird flu scare is another ploy to make North Americans paranoid and bring more money to the pharmaceutical companies.

50% of quebec high school students think there is a cure for aids. Gay teens think there is a cure for AIDS and that it is an "old gay mans" desease and are therefore not prone to it.
This is a result of the recent governement cuts in Sex Education in Quebec High Schools. Scary man.