Thursday, April 30, 2009

The signs that the government can handle a pandemic are not good

As evidence I present:

  1. The 2001 Foot and Mouth Epidemic - where eventually despite being fully prepared with loads of protocols plans etc the Military had to step in to sort the mess out.
  2. Suddenly discovering you need 17 million more course of Tamiflu just as a potential outbreak starts.
  3. Suddenly realising you are 30 million face masks short, and putting them on order.
  4. Completely failing to deal with the health threat of people returning from the source of the outbreak, indeed letting one young girl ( who then showed symptoms ) return to school. ( Kids are very vulnerable and also the most effective transmission vector for this sort of thing).
  5. Inability to distribute the supplies of Tamiflu even when you can count the number of cases on two hands, with the odd foot. R4 reported patients "flu buddy" having to go to University College Hospital in London to queue up with all the other people who have just been in contact with infectious people and might be pre-symptoms but still infectious ( so that's everyone who touches anything they did between home central London and back as potential and untraceable cases) . There was a GP on the radio bemoaning this at lunch time, and parents of friends of the poor girl in Devon whose kids were not in her class not knowing when their kids will get issued with courses of the drug.
And this is just the begging. If things take of, and a brief bit of thinking about the amount of time in Mexico its taken to go from 1 to 2k+ ( and lets hope its a lot of + otherwise mortality is going to be horrifying ) means it could take of int he UK in a few weeks. Hospitals won't be able to cope and the only thing keeping the lid on will be the thought that if you do get ill you will be issued with Tamiflu or other anti virals.

There are a number of self congratulatory articles in the press about us not panicking and other claiming no one will die in the UK ( I had a partial run in with one "Numerate Doctor" over at Con Home earlier int he week ). I think they are not facing up to what could be ahead of us.

Avoiding panic will require trust, demonstrated competence and strong local empowered leadership.

In short put the Army in charge if things take off.

No comments: