Saturday, July 23, 2005

Three? Orange? Give it up

Maybe that WHO is unwilling to raise its "risk level" from Three to higher is now pretty irrelevant, because whatever the "number" is they are making pretty clear they are scared shitless. (for an explanation see The Flu Wiki)
GENEVA (Reuters) - Indonesia's first human bird flu case, coupled with more birds dying elsewhere including Russia, are signs a long-dreaded global influenza pandemic may be approaching, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

Health officials fear the virus will mutate and mix with human influenza, creating a deadly pandemic strain that becomes easily transmissible and could kill millions of people.

Margaret Chan, WHO's new director for pandemic influenza preparedness, said there had been no known sustained human to human transmission of the deadly virus, but called for stepping up disease surveillance among poultry and humans worldwide.


"This is perhaps the only time since 1968, which was the last pandemic, that we are getting signs, symptoms and warnings from nature … More and more birds are dying in different parts of the world — this is the kind of signals, and early warnings that we are referring to."

Russia this week said it had discovered a disease in poultry in a remote village in Siberia, its first suspected case of bird flu. Around 300 birds died and specimens are being analyzed.
This numbering system is now about as relevant as the US Department of Homeland Security's infamous color coding for a terrorist threat. WHO's words speak louder than any "risk number."

And actions will speak louder than words. And the best way to get action at the local level (the only place where it will count) is for national authorities to sound a General Alarm, loudly and clearly. They are traditionally reluctant to do this because of a fear that a pandemic this doesn't materialize (and nobody knows for sure), they will lose credibility.

Two things to say about that: when you don't do something you need to do out of fear, you are gutless. The other is this: these guys don't have much credibility left to lose.