My Brief Notes On The Avian Flu

29 Jan

This past week I was researching some telecom reports, and I happened to run across an outlier in the corporate mix that caught my eye. It was a Gartner report, entitled "Prepare for Avian Influenza: Our Interview With the World Health Organization’s Dr. David Nabarro" (sorry – subscription required).

Now I don’t follow the management consulting and other firms that specialize in risk management and human resources that closely, so I thought I would check their sites out for a peek. Marsh has some information on the avian flu here. AON has something over here.

Companies and organizations do not seem prepared. A survey by the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions appears to indicate that 66% of companies do not feel adequately prepared (poll of 179 companies). Instapundit points out how hospitals could barely keep up with the normal flu here. When I step back from the business aspects and whether companies can withstand prolonged labor shortages of 30%+, etc, I am a bit more concerned that communities and families may not be prepared. At least I find myself not quite fully informed to a level that hits close to home, despite all of the press.

So I have started to make some mental notes from research reports, like those from Gartner, that hit close to home. Maybe readers will have other sources of info to share.

From the Gartner report (note Dr. Nabarro is the highest medical authority, the U.N.’s top official for global pandemic response planning), here are my key notes:

  • "in the last 200 years, there have been pandemics at intervals of every 30 to 40 years, on average" – so if even if one doesn’t have to be concerned about it, there could be an impact on one’s children or their children
  • "modellers are [saying] that it may be as few as 21 days from the initial appearance of the virus to it being a full-blown pandemic" – note that the increased mobility of people shortens the cycle-time of viruses spreading ; I ask myself, how and how fast would I personally react once something hit the continent, country, or city I live in?
  • Dr. Nabarro indicated he is not sure (because he doesn’t know enough about how corporations work) whether corporate CEOs should assign senior executives to coordinate their response to avian flu

It seems the World Bank estimates economic damage from an avian flu pandemic could cause $800 billion in economic damage. To put that number in perspective, Hurricane Katrina damages were estimated at $125 billion. A sickening of 90 million Americans as stated here – gee, that would be out of a population of 296 million Americans according to the CIA World Factbook. My wife and I can barely control flu in the household between kids let alone if one of every three people in the entire US is sick. What would you do?

I suppose after writing all of this down, I am not more prepared for an avian flu pandemic than I was before, but I do find myself at a heightened level of awareness. That’s probably at least one step forward.

Update (1/29/06): As an aside, raders have choices of stockpiling N95 masks approved by the CDC or apparently, Kimchi (which I despise the smell and taste of).

5 thoughts on “My Brief Notes On The Avian Flu

  1. I just visited Cambodia and Thailand and caught this weird cold that lasted a month!!
    I thought I was going to die at first, but I guess I’m ok now 🙂
    by the way, how do you protect yourself from blog spammers?

  2. I just visited Cambodia and Thailand and caught this weird cold that lasted a month!!
    I thought I was going to die at first, but I guess I’m ok now 🙂
    by the way, how do you protect yourself from blog spammers?

  3. chaichat,
    Try the kimchi, man!
    As for protecting yourself from blog spammers, I’m afraid that I don’t have a good solution. Banning IP numbers doesn’t work too great since people can change IP numbers. Enabling moderation of comments and trackback helps too. Captcha is another method (where the reader needs to enter a sequence of letters and digits). TypeKey registration is another method.
    Unfortunately, I don’t think blogspot supports many of these features, which means you might have to move to another blog platform.

  4. Steve, if the topic of Avian Flu interests you, I have written about the politics of pandemics and the politics of Tamiflu.
    I can also recommend this article on preparing for a flu pandemic from an economic perspective and this collection of pandemic preparedness resources.
    If you want to follow the issue on an on-going basis, Melanie Mattson’s blog Just a Bump in the Beltway tracks all the latest avian flu news, and for comprehensive resources, check out the Flu Wiki.
    And, if you’re not scared yet, read John John M. Barry’s chronicle of the 1918 flu pandemic,”The Great Influenza.”
    BTW, I got here via David Maister’s blogroll, and now you are one of my daily reads. I’m holding my breath waiting for your next post! 🙂

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