talk about expert consensus: on pandemics

pandemic virus

Dave Pollard posts some sobering findings from a global conference on disaster management where he cobbled together a consensus view of the pandemic prospect.

Bear in mind that this form of human culling is above and beyond the triangle of sustainability concerns about weird weather, scarce resources and growing unrest.

What should we be doing to prepare for and cope with a future pandemic?

To set the stage, Pollard notes what he calls a "growing sense of maturity and awareness of the lessons of history and our limited ability to anticipate or predict events in complex environments."

Translated: YIKES!

According to Pollard there are 12 important areas of expert consensus about the next pandemic. At core, the biggest uncertainty surrounds telecom, electrical systems and health facilities. If these cannot be kept functioning, all bets are off.

Fully 7 of 12 are things that we can be pretty sure WON'T work:

  1. Planning ahead
  2. Wearing masks
  3. Counting on government
  4. Closing borders and air routes
  5. Isolating your town
  6. Science inventing something
  7. Antivirals

Here's wot else we know, according to Pollard:

Oh, and, the 12th thang? Says Pollard:

"The tools that will work in a pandemic are those that are (a) simple to use and maintain, (b) intuitive to understand, and (c) available at the point of use: So, for example, satellite phones will be needed when regular cell phones are disabled, but most people don't know where to get them, or how to use them, or that they only work out-of-doors. Emergency generators are hard to learn to use and require frequent proper maintenance. Antivirals need to be administered according to a strict, complicated regimen. Every complication, every extra step, reduces the effectiveness and value of tools that could otherwise save lives. And surveys indicate most people will be looking at simple sources -- TV and newspapers, not the Internet -- for pandemic information."

Want some slim sliver of hope? Mebbe you have a "natural immunity". This is what will most determine who lives, who gets sick and who dies, says Pollard. This and the virulence of the particular virus that gets loose.

Oh, and, strong immune systems may actually be most vulnerable to pandemic disease, says Pollard, due to a phenomenon called "cytokine storm".

If it turns out you DO have a natural immunity, expect to be in great demand as folks fall around you.

Now, I wonder if there's a way to check for natural immunity in advance...

Wonders Pollard:

"Are you ready for this? What do you think most people will do -- panic and overload the phone lines and help lines, or stay calm and rise to the occasion?"

Published by Ken on July 18th, 2007 tagged Island Vulnerabilities

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