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Thursday, September 15, 2005

WHO on the Coming Pandemic

More on the bird flu:

Avian flu will mutate and become transmissible by humans and the world has no time to lose to stop it becoming a pandemic, the head of the U.N. World Health Organization said on Thursday.

Lee Jong-wook, a South Korean doctor, delivered his stark warning as the United States worked to rally states behind a new U.S. plan to fight the disease, which has already killed more than 60 people in Asia and spread to Russia and Europe.

'Human influenza is coming, we know that, and no government, no leaders can afford to be caught off-guard,' Lee said.

'We must pounce on human pandemic outbreaks with all medicines at our disposal and at the earliest possible moment,' he told a news conference in New York.

'When the pandemic starts, it is simply too late.'"

It seems our own President is beginning to see the threat, too. Or, more likely, in the face of an unmitigated, disastrous failure in responding to the devastation of Katrina, Karl Rove sees the writing on the wall and knows he needs Bush to at the very least pay some lip service to the threat so as not to seem totally clueless:
U.S. President George W. Bush unveiled a plan at the United Nations on Wednesday under which countries and international agencies would pool resources and expertise to fight bird flu.

His International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza reflects growing concern that avian flu could becomes a human pandemic, a threat Bush said the world must not allow.
It's the first I've heard of this. If it's anything more than fluff and PR, I'll be shocked, but I'll withhold judgment until I see some specifics. For now it's more of the same old yada yada. From the transcript of Bush's announcement:
As we strengthen our commitments to fighting malaria and AIDS, we must also remain on the offensive against new threats to public health such as the Avian Influenza. If left unchallenged, this virus could become the first pandemic of the 21st century. We must not allow that to happen. Today I am announcing a new International Partnership on Avian and Pandemic Influenza. The Partnership requires countries that face an outbreak to immediately share information and provide samples to the World Health Organization. By requiring transparency, we can respond more rapidly to dangerous outbreaks and stop them on time. Many nations have already joined this partnership; we invite all nations to participate. It's essential we work together, and as we do so, we will fulfill a moral duty to protect our citizens, and heal the sick, and comfort the afflicted.
I do hope there's some sort of substance to this. An avian flu pandemic would make the death count of the Asian tsunami pale in comparison.

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