Monday, October 17, 2005

Et tu, Greece?

Bird flu doesn't care if you are a member of the EU or just an EU wannabe (like Romania or Turkey). That's what Greece is finding out, as it reports turkeys on the eastern Aegean island of Chios with H5 infection. Confirmation that it is H5N1 is pending, but given the experience of Romania and Turkey (and maybe Bulgaria and Croatia), few would bet this is Low Pathogenic H5N2.

One EU member, the UK, also issued an up-beat assessment of its government:
Sir Liam [Donaldson, UK's chief medical officer] said a "comprehensive plan" was in place to limit the impact of any pandemic, which would include the development of a vaccine and the deployment of the anti-viral drugs. An effective vaccine cannot be manufactured yet because a mutant strain of bird flu passing between humans has not yet been seen. (Timesonline)
Up-beat, yes. And probably false. The only particulars given in this piece are anti-viral deployment and vaccine development. It is hard to see how developing one until a pandemic breaks out qualifies as a "plan" for managing consequences. Anti-viral stockpiling at best will be effective on the margin. The main social and economic consequences of widespread absenteeism are not mentioned nor is there evidence of any "comprehensive plan" to deal with them.

Spinning is one thing, and bad enough. It is even worse if you believe your own spin.