Friday, October 07, 2005

Hypocrisy at bird flu meeting

We know irony died stillborn in the Bush Administration, but hypocrisy has never been healthier. As George W. met vaccine makers to encourage them to make haste in developoing a bird flu vaccine (they needed to be told?), his minions were lecturing an 80 nation gathering of senior officials in Washington, DC pondering how they were going to live through an influenza pandemic without being blamed for their negligence in not preparing for it.
The United States hopes to convince foreign governments that political will to prepare for an outbreak before it starts is vital, and is stressing that as disease does not recognise national borders, a threat against one country is a threat against everyone.

"We're very hopeful that every single government in Asia learned a great lesson out of the SARS epidemic," a senior Health and Human Services department official said Thursday, referring to China's delay in reporting the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2002 and 2003.

"There are governments involved that don't have a great track record with sharing information with their own publics or with the wider international community." (Agence France Presse)
A confession? A veiled reference to the Iraq mistake? Or the failure of CDC to share flu sequences with scientists?
All governments have "have a responsibility to each other working with the international organizations for the good of the rest of mankind," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Climate change? Multilateralism?

No wonder the official requested anonymity. He's off message.