Thursday, 30 April 2009

Pandemics - the failure of government and the media

I have spent quite a bit of time over the past few days working on the Flu Wiki, started by Jimmy Wales - founder of Wikipeadia. Many people have been involved. Trying to extract the facts from the media and government hype has been a challenge.

Now I'm not an pandemic expert, but I consider myself good at assessing sources. Understanding what the UK and international agencies are saying is hard work, and I think that the wiki now reflects this work. The aim is to present a calm representation of what is going on.

The media and governments are in a real bind. The problem is that we have probably moved into the long game with respect to this flu. It seems probable that we are going to see a series of outbreaks over the next 6-18 months. It is quite likely that the first wave will be pretty mild. If we see outbreaks in several countries, with very few deaths, then WHO will have to raise the outbreak to Phase 6. The media will go frenetic for a few days and then start saying that it was an over-reaction. The governments will respond, saying they had no choice.

The problem is that historical evidence suggests that new strains of the Influenza virus become more dangerous over time. A calm view of the progress of the pandemic will be required, and I see neither the media, nor governments, capable of maintaining this interest.

I recommend that you join us and show the real power of the new media to collect and maintain a valuable, calm resource.