Monday, March 05, 2007

The Problem With Pandemics

Here are a few facts to ponder about pandemics:
  • Viruses mutate, so any conventional vaccine must be delayed until the disaster is in progress.
  • Typically up to six months are required to develop a vaccine, or about the same amount of time the 1918 flu pandemic took to kill 25 million people.
  • The world's entire capacity for vaccine production could produce 400 million doses. There are 6 billion people in the world. Do the math.

While some researchers are investigating wide-spectrum vaccines, adjuvants to make the vaccines more effective, and faster production, the amount of effort does not match the threat. A pandemic is coming. It may not be this year or next, but eventually it will come, and vaccines will be too late and too few.

Beyond vaccines there are the recommendations of the Lifeboat Foundation's BioShield program, which among other things urges the development of a number of promising new technologies and strategies for fighting viruses. We need to expedite development of these now.

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