American Samizdat

Sunday, April 26, 2009. *

ITEM: This could get pretty bad. I think this Daily Kos post kind of sums it up:

Swine flu pandemic now appears inevitable

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Sun Apr 26, 2009 at 03:34:14 AM PDT

A swine flu pandemic now appears inevitable. Thousands may die in USA, millions worldwide.

The virus is a new strain and no one has immunity to it. It appears highly contagious. New cases are rapidly appearing all over the globe.

It is spread from person to person (not from contact with animals). No vaccine is currently available, but one may be available by the end of the year. It is resistant to the flu drugs amantadine and rimantadine, but currently treatable with oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). That may change however as the virus continues to mutate.

Recommendations: Take extra precautions to keep yourself healthy. Keep your distance from other people, especially if they appear sick, are coughing or sneezing. Do not touch handles and doorknobs in public places. Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching anything in public, and before eating or handling food. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, eyes or face unless you just washed your hands thoroughly.

Sources for more info:

Related: More from Global Guerillas. You know, I can't help but wonder if this was intentional.


In a hyper-connected world, even small events can turn into global disasters (Mexico City's International airport handles 70,000 travelers a day). More:

The BBC has some personal stories (this one was particularly interesting):

I work as a resident doctor in one of the biggest hospitals in Mexico City and sadly, the situation is far from "under control". As a doctor, I realise that the media does not report the truth. Authorities distributed vaccines among all the medical personnel with no results, because two of my partners who worked in this hospital (interns) were killed by this new virus in less than six days even though they were vaccinated as all of us were. The official number of deaths is 20, nevertheless, the true number of victims are more than 200. I understand that we must avoid to panic, but telling the truth it might be better now to prevent and avoid more deaths.

Reuters on the shutdown of Mexico City:

Mexico has shut schools and museums and canceled hundreds of public events in its sprawling, overcrowded capital of 20 million people to try to prevent further infections... Shopping centers were hushed, restaurant reservations were canceled and everyone from waiters to churchgoers wore face masks.

Bloomberg on the system disruption potential:

..during the 2003 SARS outbreak in Asia... Travel curbs imposed there damaged economies throughout the region, where that virus circulated most widely. In Singapore, where 33 infected people died, gross domestic product shrank 11.4 percent in the second quarter of 2003 because of the severe acute respiratory syndrome.

UPDATE: Reuters added more data/estimates of the impact:

The World Bank estimated in 2008 that a flu pandemic could cost $3 trillion and result in a nearly 5 percent drop in world gross domestic product. The World Bank has estimated that more than 70 million people could die worldwide in a severe pandemic.

NYTimes. Hong Kong's sensor-based measurement and indefinite detention:

Ever since the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, Hong Kong has used infrared scanners to measure the facial temperature of all arrivals at its airport and border crossings with mainland China. Visitors are required to remove any hats to ensure accurate measurement, and children are checked with ear thermometers because the scanners are less reliable in measuring their faces. ....any traveler who has passed through a city with laboratory-confirmed cases and who arrives in Hong Kong with a fever and respiratory symptoms will be intercepted by officials and sent to a hospital to await testing. “Until that test is negative, we won’t allow him out,” he said.

NOTE: Unfortunately, the current effort to prevent the global economy's descent into depression is merely an information operation -- an effort to control perception via the manipulation of information/media -- rather than anything of real substance. Even a mild pandemic could wash that information facade away.


posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:52 PM
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