FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

US Unprepared for Possible Flu Pandemic

The US is woefully unprepared for a flu pandemic if one were to hit today, according to the health advocacy group Trust for America's Health. The group projects that nearly 67 million Americans could contract a flu virus, and that over half a million could die.

Among the problems the group notes are the lack of vaccines and antiviral medications such as Tamiflu, a shortage of available hospital beds, and no real preparedness for disruptions to the food supply, the economy, homeland security, and overall daily life. They recommend that the President create a body with the power to reach across agencies and plan massive emergency efforts -- thereby giving pandemic prevention the same government priority as anti-terrorism.

Concerns remain for a possible widespread outbreak of the avian flu. The World Health Organization estimates that, if such a pandemic were to emerge, as much as one quarter of the world's population could be affected. Countries such as Great Britain are making pandemic preparation a priority, but they have concerns of their own -- namely, that people from countries that are poorly prepared will try to illegally enter countries with better preparation.

RELATED: The Flu Wiki has been established as an information resource "to help local communities prepare for and perhaps cope with a possible influenza pandemic." The goal is to help local communities gather and share information that might be hard to disseminate otherwise, and to discuss possible problems and solutions before they get out of control.

Sources: FuturePundit, WorldChanging