First, your daily snapshot of the Google Map for swine flu infections.
As the World Health Organization raised its infectious disease alert level Wednesday and health officials confirmed the first death linked to swine flu inside U.S. borders, scientists studying the virus are coming to the consensus that this hybrid strain of influenza — at least in its current form — isn’t shaping up to be as fatal as the strains that caused some previous pandemics.
In fact, the current outbreak of the H1N1 virus, which emerged in San Diego and southern Mexico late last month, may not even do as much damage as the run-of-the-mill flu outbreaks that occur each winter without much fanfare.
1. The single most important thing we can do for a pandemic—whether swine flu or not—is to have well-prepared local health-care systems. We should prepare for pandemics in ways that are politically sustainable and remain useful even if this turns out not to be a flu pandemic.
2. Prepare social norms and emergency procedures that would limit or delay the spread of a pandemic. Regular hand washing and other beneficial public customs—like not going to work when feeling sick— may save more lives than a Tamiflu stockpile.
3. Decentralize our supplies of anti-virals and treat timely distribution as more important than simply creating a stockpile.
4. Institute prizes for effective vaccines and relax liability laws for vaccine makers. Our overnment has discouraged what it should have encouraged.
5. Respect intellectual property by buying the relevant drugs and vaccines at fair prices. Confiscating property rights would reduce the incentive for innovation the next time around.
6. For the case of a truly serious pandemic, make economic preparations to ensure the continuity of food and power supplies. The relevant “choke points” may include the check-clearing system and the use of mass transit to deliver food supply workers to their jobs.
7. Realize that the federal government will be largely powerless in the worst stages of a pandemic and make appropriate local plans.
8. Encourage the formation of prediction markets— speculative markets that make forecasts on policy topics—in a flu pandemic.
9. Reform the World Health Organization and give it greater autonomy from its government funders.
Meanwhile, Shurf Joe Biden sez: “I would tell members of my family — and I have — I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now. It’s not that it’s going to Mexico in a confined aircraft where one person sneezes, that goes all the way through the aircraft.” The White House quickly moved to damage control. Not to control the damage of swine flu – to control the damage of Shurf Joe Biden shooting his fool mouth off.
Ace adds: “Another tip from Joe Biden: Always leave yourself one bullet. If you feel an itching in your nose or throat, put the gun in your mouth and blow the virus out of the back of your head. Like they say, feed a cold, head-shot a fever.”
As always, I’m not sure how serious the swine flu really is. I’ve taken the minimal precautions (buying some masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer) along with our general preparedness plan (food and water, cooking and heating supplies, first aid and medicine, flashlights and batteries, etc.). Now I just live my life pretty much like normal and pay attention to the news to see if anything becomes more serious.
And one swine flu victim says “it’s not so bad.”
“I could hardly move. It was a chore to get out of bed. I felt absolutely terrible,” Hairsine said from his parents’ home. “I feel like it still is the flu, but it’s not so terrible that people should be freaking out the way they are.”
And on a lighter note: