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The Pandemic Prophecy
He doesn’t know when it’s coming, or how bad it will be. But Dr. Michael Osterholm, one of the world’s foremost infectious disease experts, believes a flu pandemic is inevitable. And to hear him tell it, we’re nowhere near ready.
By Tim Gihring
Published April 2006

pikk hästikirjutatud artikkel Osterholmist, aga eriti rõhutaks üht lõiku poliitikute isiklikust vastutusest

Last November, Osterholm spoke at a pandemic flu preparedness seminar sponsored by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and aimed at local businesses. Osterholm was asked his opinion of the federal government’s commitment to preparedness. He mulled the question so long it seemed he might not answer. Finally, he did. “I don’t give a damn about not being liked anymore—this is too important an issue,” he said. And then he laid into politicians who’ve paid lip service to pandemic preparedness but done nothing. “I’m afraid we’re going to have a commission like [the one convened after] 9/11,” he said. In other words, a sweeping, klieg-lighted investigation into everything that went wrong during the Great Influenza Pandemic of 200–. “And this time,” he says, “we’re all going to be held accountable.”
veel üks hea tsitaat:
When discussing pandemic flu, Osterholm frequently quotes Ben Franklin’s observation, “If we don’t hang together, we’ll all hang separately.
paar lõiku veel:
One hundred eighty million people are dead—two out of every hundred in the world—including 1.7 million in the United States and more than 30,000 in Minnesota. Vaccines are unavailable. Borders are closed, supply lines shut down. Victims huddle on cots in the Metrodome. Doctors and nurses are too scared to come to work. Bodies are piling up in the streets. This isn’t the latest Steven Spielberg thriller; it isn’t the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. It’s the flu. And former state epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, for one, believes this scenario could easily become reality.Pandemics happen,” Osterholm is fond of saying, as if it’s a catch phrase from a bumper sticker, as if it’s something we all just know. But most people don’t know that pandemics—diseases that spread across large swaths of geography and population—are as inevitable as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis.

Some people, such as government officials and business leaders who might mitigate a crisis, should know this. But they don’t, or they don’t believe it, or they don’t know what to do with the information. Not all of them, anyway. Not yet. And that’s why Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota, can’t stop talking about pandemic influenza. “I can’t emphasize enough,” he says, “that it’s not a matter of if but when.”

.. Osterholm believes H5N1 is “a 1918-like virus.” Given the way it continues to evolve, to change genetically, it may one day develop the capacity to jump from human to human. Then, Osterholm says, we’ll be updating the death toll not monthly, as we are now in Asia, but by the minute.

“I believe an influenza pandemic will be like a 12- to 18-month global blizzard that will ultimately change the world as we know it today,” Osterholm testified before Congress in December.

On Oprah, Osterholm is asked how regular folks can prepare for the flu. Stockpile food? Certainly, he says. How about masks? Maybe, if they’re the right kind of masks. Think about what you’ll do, where you’ll go, how you’ll work under pandemic conditions, Osterholm counsels. And beyond that, push, as he is, for a more robust public health system. The one thing you can’t do, he says, is hope it won’t happen.


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