Monday, April 03, 2006

Stockpile human bird flu vaccine now, say experts

New Scientist Breaking News - Stockpile human bird flu vaccine now, say experts:

"Countries should stockpile vaccines against H5N1 flu even before any H5N1 pandemic begins, experts warn. A new modelling study shows that without such vaccines, and antiviral drugs, efforts such as school closures and travel restrictions will have almost no effect on the number of deaths a pandemic would cause in the US.

Yet that is what the country currently relies on. In March, US Health Secretary Michael Leavitt told a Congressional panel that 'in the first six months of a pandemic we are dependent on basic public health and social distancing. The term 'social distancing' refers to measures that reduce human contact, such as school and business closures."

I don't think that fact is generally appreciated by the public, even though it's pretty plainly stated by all government websites, such as , which includes planning checklists for state and local governments, schools, businesses and individuals - every one of them mentioning disruption of basic services, transportation, and even food delivery. I doubt that my own organization is aware of these checklists, let alone following them. I recommend you take a look at the individual checklist, for you may need to be self-sufficient for a month or two.

Now, avian flu and the pandemic flu are different., and vaccinating for one will not provide full protection against the other. There currently is no commercially available vaccine to protect humans against H5N1 avian virus that is being seen in Asia and Europe. A pandemic vaccine cannot be produced until a new pandemic influenza virus emerges and is identified. This leads the government to conclude that "The need for vaccine is likely to outstrip supply and the supply of antiviral drugs is also likely to be inadequate early in a pandemic. Difficult decisions will need to be made regarding who gets antiviral drugs and vaccines." Well, at least they're being honest.

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