Web Zap*Germs Archive

May 25, 2005

NATURE Focuses on Avian Flu

The 26 May issue of Nature devotes considerable editorial space to discussing aspects of the avian flu situation, including vaccine progress and a look at what current drugs may be effective in case of a pandemic.

Nature has also established a Web Focus area on avian flu, with free access to the articles in the latest issues, an archive of past articles discussing avian flu, and a timeline for the progress of the disease.

Update: USA Today referred to the Nature issue and added some interesting detail, all under the soothing head, "Flu Pandemic Warnings Escalate."

Update 29 May 2005: Back in January, Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick at Spiked Health had some interesting remarks about pandemic-mongering, including this:
Old radicals like [Ralph] Nader and [Mike] Davis prefer scaremongering about flu to terrorist alerts because this allows them to ride a number of hobbyhorses - about the factory farming conditions alleged to foster avian flu, about drug companies' lack of interest in producing low-profit vaccines, about complacent governments and the impoverished communities in developing countries that are likely to bear the brunt of any epidemic (as well as offering a bridge to our cities).

No doubt there is some truth in all these claims. But in practice, raising the alert over flu will do little to change any of the conditions that encourage the global spread of the virus. The consequences of scaremongering about flu are the same as those of scaremongering about bioterrorism: intensified popular anxieties and diminished resistance to whatever authoritarian measures governments introduce under the banner of 'homeland security' and public health and safety.
Makes you think.


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