Friday, June 12, 2009

“It’s unstoppable! We’re all going to die.”

Gentle readers of Commentarama, it’s not looking so good for us. Last night I stumbled upon a little noticed article about the H1N1 pandemic. You should all read that article. . . or you can read it below, where I took the liberty of filling in a few blanks.

“I opened the door and influenza,” joked WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan as she emerged from an emergency meeting with flu experts. “We are moving to Phase 6,” she said. “Phase 6 is the agency’s highest alert level.” Under Phase 6, the WHO will send out a harshly worded letter to the H1N1 virus demanding that it cease and desist all further infections under threat of sanctions that will not be enforced. “If that fails, we will return to Phase 5, under which we ignore the problem and pass the blame to individual countries.”

But why go to Phase 6 now? Is the H1N1 epidemic getting worse? “No,” said Chan. Indeed, she indicated that this decision should have been made earlier, but a certain country that she would not name (though she did hum Rule Britannia) has been falsely reporting their data.

Chan also would not say which country technically tipped the world into the pandemic, though she did pantomime a kangaroo stomping a dingo. WHO flu chief Keiji Fukuda was more forthcoming, stating simply: “Australia.” He later elaborated, “They seemed to indicate the virus was spreading rapidly there -- more than 1,300 cases were reported by Thursday. By July 3, I expect everyone on their island to be dead.”

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the new head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Atlanta that he does not expect widespread public anxiety in the United States as a result of the declaration, largely because of the fact that of 29,000 cases in 74 countries, most have reported only mild symptoms and few have needed medical treatment. Nevertheless, he is hopeful that the new declaration will terrify people.

Dr. Frieden also asked that we wish his grandmother a happy birthday.

David Ropeik, an expert in risk perception and communication at Harvard University, says the word “pandemic” is less frightening than “apocalyptic plague” which he had recommended using.

Said Mr. Ropeik, “This ‘soft build up’ is a blown opportunity. It allows people to get used to what is otherwise a scary word, understand the particulars of the disease, and that should mean that reaction will be a little more information-based and a little less emotional. And frankly, that sucks.”

Each expert did agree that the public should consider itself warned that H1N1 has now technically turned into a pandemic, and that it has the potential to kill us all. So far, swine flu has caused only 144 deaths, compared with ordinary flu that kills up to 500,000 people a year, but that could change at any moment.

The H1N1 virus could not be reached for comment.


Unknown said...

The "WHO flu expert?" What is this, Abbot and Costello medicine?

Captain Soapbox said...

Andrew I laughed so hard I cried. That's no mean feat to pull off with me ether, so kudos.

Now if you'd kindly tell me how to explain to my slightly disheveled, yet adorable (yeah she's reading as I post owww this) and very dangerous finacee that wandered over to see what caused me to laugh so hard as to wake her up, well that'd be appreciated too. LOL

AndrewPrice said...

Not on your life Soapbox!

LawHawk, all the names are real and large parts of the quotes are too. Only the. . . um, "feel of the piece" was changed to incriminate the innocent.

Seriously, when I read the real article, I kept wondering, why are they doing this other than that they are just trying to scare people?

StanH said...

Very funny Andrew! Chicken Little sensationalism classic MSM scare tactic, and I include the CDC, WHO, as willing participants. To keep with the Fairy Tale meme, The Boy who cried Wolf. If you look at the facts of this strain of flu it has some similarities to the 1918 flu, that started docile in the spring and turned deadly in the fall. So I’m with you Andrew these jerks (MSM, CDC, WHO) are being hysterical to be relevant, it doesn’t however negate the fact that it should be watched, we simply don’t need a play-by-play. By the way, “I dig the new look.”

StlDan said...

This is merely an exercise to desensitize the public to the impending declaration of a phase 6 climitepandemic. Or these people are just looking to validate their existence and budget.

patti said...

since i had a case of this 6 weeks ago AND SURVIVED (shhhh, don't tell anyone) i am sure i will be forced into a work camp of nurses, tending to fevered victims who(ha!) fall ill in 3, 2, ....

hey, still well? don't know anyone with the flu? maybe you didn't see me counting, waiting on the sick and the soon to die. let's try that again. in 3, 2, ....

huh. nary a fevered head.


AndrewPrice said...

Patti -- I'm glad to hear you survived the unsurvivable. Any zombie-like symptoms?

StanH and StlDan, you guys are right. This is all about fear mongering. As I read the original article, I kept trying to find a reason for why they would make this declaration if nothing had changed and they never could come up with a real reason. It just seemd to be about raising the profile of their office.

Captain Soapbox said...

Okay thanks to you Andrew, I had to go for a four hour mandatory run this morning, and make breakfast which I didn't get to eat since I was ordered to go running, and made lunch. Which I did get to eat. I hope you're happy. I hope you're really, really, happy. LOL

As for why they did their Chicken Little impression, well they need to justify their existence for one thing, and for another people just don't have the proper level of fear yet they figure. Without Fear there can not be the proper levels of Change don't ya know.

Skinners 2 Cents said...

Let the hilarity ensue.

I can't believe that the WHO can not stop influenza, I mean really when was the last time you heard of anyone getting influenza I mean come on that soooo last year. Oh wait a minute not being in the medical field it took me a couple of seconds to figure out that influenza means the flu. The same virus that many adults get once through out the year and survive. The next time I get the flu I'm heading straight to the WHO and demanding more attention be spotlighted on this yearly event.

I do have to admit that my eyes did grow to saucer size when I read that the swine flu fatalities had reached, wait for it, double digits in the US. That's right it finally reached 10. I'd imagine that if we asked swine flu how it felt about this it would be ashamed. Just about everything else dangerous in the world is ahead of it in kills so far and not just by a little bit.
Most dangerous activities or other diseases have all reached and surpassed the triple digit mark the quadruple digit mark and on and on. I'd keep going but I'm not sure what 5 digits is.

I make lite of the 10 people who have died in the US but only in jest it's unfortunate when anyone dies. To put my joking into perspective according to the CDC, "CDC estimated that about 36,000 people died of flu-related causes each year, on average, during the 1990s in the United States. This figure includes people dying from complications of flu.

That's why I say the swine flu would be ashamed of its self if we could ask it. It almost sounds safer to catch the swine flu than the seasonal flu.

AndrewPrice said...


LOL! You're right, the swine flu should be ashamed.

As you note, we're not making lite of anyone who has died, that's a sad and tragic thing, but the way the WHO and the CDC are treating this is ridiculous.

They should be much more concerned with stopping "the flu" than the swine flu. And even then, to declare this a pandemic when nothing has changed, makes no sense except as fear mongering.

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