Preparing for the Next Pandemic
Michael T. OsterholmFrom Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005
Osterholm provides clarity to the dangers of a influenza pandemic. The threat is very real, and the consequences he outlined as equally as real. Here is where he and this Author part company. The only salvation from a influenza pandemic is development of a Control Vaccine, which could provide protection from any strain of influenza. Designer Vaccines to protect against any specific strain of influenza will never provide protection against a pandemic.
Infectious spread of a influenza strain far outstrips current Vaccine production capacity, and would outstrip any projected increase in Vaccine production capacity due to the speed of transmission. Massive stockpiling of antiviral drugs to provide limited protection from the influenza strain already ingested is equally foolhardy. The chemical composition of antiviral drugs degrade rapidly, and development of excess capacity will not provide profitability, even with Government funding (simply too many Chemists and Labs sitting around rusting).
We will endure an influenza pandemic sometime, quite possibly within Our lifetimes. The Outcome will undoubtedly be severe, not a complete Horror Story, but We may be talking about the loss of a half billion human lives. Can We plan for it? Not with Our current resources and technology. We simply take measures to bury the bodies, and continue life, as this World always has had to do; remembering that Death is a companion to which We all have to eventually submit. lgl