Friday, June 12, 2009

The Pig Plague Has Arrived.

It's official, we are in the midst of a pandemic. The first one in four decades, in fact. The WHO's decision to move up to Level 6 has prompted a fair bit of controversy and debate, not least between me and my fellow healthcare anylysts. Miss K and I were thrashing it out earlier this afternoon, and we quickly established ourselves on different sides of the divide:

Miss K: The WHO is being highly irresponsible in declaring a pandemic. People will panic for nothing, and there will be travel bans imposed in certain countries, and it will badly damage the economy.

Lady M: Perhaps, but how long is the WHO supposed to wait? If it does nothing until the A/H1N1 incidence rate is well into the double figures, it will be accused of having taken no precautionary measures and then people will really start to panic. Assuming the WHO delivers a consistent message that there is no need to panic and that the pandemic is a mild one, shouldn't we start mobilising resources to develop a vaccine as soon as possible?

Miss K: Yes, but the WHO has declared a pandemic based on the number of people infected rather than the severity of the infection. There have barely been any deaths from swine 'flu on a global level. If they do this with every new disease, the pandemic alert will lose its effectiveness and people won't care anymore.

Lady M: You can't use the number of deaths as the only way of telling how serious this is. Half the people who are getting sick are taking weeks to recover, and when you multiply the cost of their quarantining, specialised treatment, hospital costs and days off work by the number of people who will eventually get it if no preventive action is taken, the economic cost will run into the hundreds of millions globally.

It's a tough one, and there are valid points to be made on either side. What do you think?


Post a Comment

<< Home