So how serious should we be taking swine flu? Is it a real global pandemic or just the latest story for the media to dance around with blazing torches? Yes, close to 100 people have died due to the virus, and unlike other flu strains the majority of humans have no natural resistance to it, but then again, cases outside of the United States and Mexico have been mild.
Looking at government responses around the world is interesting sociologically. The British are going full tilt with the organisation, the famous bureaucracy creaking into gear – opening up 24-hour testing centres, recommending people not to visit a GP if they display flu-like symptoms (to prevent further spread of the virus) and the roll out of a national education campaign including leaflets and a quite nifty television ad complete with nifty slogan. Here it is:
China… who knows what’s going through their minds? The Mexicans aren’t happy about China’s deportation of perfectly healthy Mexicans. Over-reaction? Tienanmen anyone? BBC Blogger James Reynolds reported that inbound to Beijing his flight was subjected to very intense scrutiny, including pointing temperature guns at each passengers forehead and asking them if they had been in contact with pigs. A strange question, when you think about it, maybe the Chinese know something that everybody else doesn’t? They do have a low incidence of swine flu, so maybe over-reaction isn’t always bad.
Australia, typically was caught with its pants down. Our supplies of antivirals were out of date, and the messages we’ve been getting from health organisations are vague and mixed. The Chief Health Officer of NSW told people not to go to hospital if they were sick, the NSW Department of Health website recommends that people stay at home until they are better, when I called the National Swine Flu Hotline (180 2007) I was advised to go visit my GP.
Uncle Kevin’s just put in an order for 10-million doses of the anti-swine flu drug when it gets released. Based on how much doses of another anitival, Relenza cost, these doses will cost over $2500-million. Who wants to lay a bet that the drugs will be unnecessary by the time they arrive, and then when sine flu next rolls around, the antivirals will be out of date!
The Meriton in Parramatta, just around the corner from my house, has just evicted some of the people from the P&O Cruise who had quarantined themselves. Reports say that the swine flu sufferers were actively trying to infect the other guests in the hotel by knocking on their doors and then sneezing in their faces. That last bit isn’t true. But maybe I should quarantine myself until I start seeing some sense out there.
So what am I going to do? Ignore it all probably. I reckon influenza is a massive beat-up and has been for years. What’s all this getting a seasonal flu shot business anyway? I’ve never had one, and I hardly ever get sick. Everyone I know who gets the anti-flu shot gets a mild dose of the flu. So who benefits here? The drug companies, for starters.