Bird Flu Pandemic - Government could do more

Two weeks ago this blog featured heavily a story about bird flu pandemic, the inevitable mutation of the H5N1 bird flu virus in to a form that humans could catch.

A BBC documentary highlighted that the mortality rate of such a pandemic could see one in ten of the population dying, moreover it pointed out that the UK was unable to produce enough vaccine in time to prevent a large proportion of the population catching the mutant flu. Indeed, it could take six months for any vaccine to be produced. So it comes as little surprise to read the reports today from the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society that highlight that the British government is not following sound medical and scientific practice in having more than one anti-viral treatment stockpiled. In addition, they add that the UK has done little to investigate if vaccines could be made to go further or if and when the pandemic strikes. Read the BBC report about this HERE.

However, the report adds that limited vaccine supplies can "go-further" if they are combined with adjuvants - agents which boost the effectiveness of a vaccine.

Unfortunately, the reports makes clear that the UK has done little to aid the development of "adjuvants".

Although the UK government is one of the best prepared in terms of being ready for the pandemic, it is true to say this is relative to the rest of the world that is completely unprepared, and it does not mean we could be doing more.

As it stands, we are sleepwalking towards the death of millions of people.


Ellee said...

It's not just concerns about the right treatment, will we have any proper emergency back-up in operation should there be a pandemic? Will we have enough hospital beds and medical staff?

Gary Elsby said...

Interesting that tamiflu is no cure for bird flu.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Yes, it's no cure and aviain flu is showing signs of resistance to it. That is why the report yesterday was calling for the government to buy relenza, a drug made by Glaxo Smithkline (a UK company). Apparently though, the US has bought millions of doses and the UK government is therefore right at the back of the queue, so isn't bothering.