Monday, 27 April 2009

Is a pandemic planned for?

The short answer would seem to be "Yes".

The longer answer is more interesting. The government has published its plans for coping with a flu pandemic - this copy is hosted on the BBC's website. I've waded through most of the 177 pages of this plan, and it seems quite sensible. It is generally honest and straightforward.

The interesting thing is that it seems to be planning for a mild form of the flu - the model is based on the lowest of the mortality rates that they considered (0.37%), and the middle attack rate (50%). This somewhat reminds me of Alistair Darling's budget - that predicted the best outcome possible for the economy, and then planned for this.

The next few days will give us some clear indications of how this outbreak is going to progress. There may be some unique features of the exposure in Mexico that led to the mortality, or the outbreak may establish itself in several locations world-wide. If this happens, then we can expect to see WHO recognise this and reflect it in increasing their alert to "Pandemic Phase 4". Reading the documentation, I suspect it is already there, as there is human-to-human infection. WHO must be waiting for verification of this fact.

Jimmy Wales has started a Flu Wiki, to collect calm neutral information about the progress of the outbreak. Please consider contributing to this, as otherwise we may end up relying on the government and the media...

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