Tuesday, April 28, 2009

How prepared is the UK for a pandemic?

How prepared is the UK for a pandemic? I know the official view is that the UK is one of the best prepared countries to deal with swine flu. (link via BBC News) I would like to believe we are well prepared but I have to wonder after reading this article: UK GP Investigates Suspected Swine Flu Case Without Adequate Support Or Access To Antivirals (link via medicalnewstoday.com) The experience by this one GP is very worrying indeed but it also begs the question - how many other GPs are not prepared for a flu pandemic? I realize a pandemic hasn't materialized yet (and hopefully it won't) but shouldn't a strategy be in place before a pandemic strikes? Am I worrying unnecessarily? I don't think so. In fact, I just read this alarming news: More than 30 million face masks are being ordered by the Department of Health as fears grow that swine flu could become a pandemic. (link via telegraph.co.uk) The masks are needed by healthcare professionals. Why didn't the Department of Health have a stockpile of face masks ready before now? We are told to stay calm and not to panic but I can't help feeling anxious and worried about how the NHS will cope. What do you think? Do you still believe the UK is one of the best-prepared countries in the world for dealing with a pandemic? Related post from my blog: UK Department of Health: "CATCH IT. BIN IT. KILL IT." - new advert showing how to prevent swine flu Links via the web about Swine Flu: Human Swine Influenza: advice for the public (link via Health Protection Agency) Important Information About Swine Flu (link via NHS Choices) Swine influenza frequently asked questions (link via World Health Organization)

10 comments:

  1. Better prepared than our homeland, Maureen. The UK has one of the highest, or the highest, rations of antivirals per capita in the world.

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  2. Congress cut our funding for pandemic flu in the last couple of months. It was called pork. Isn't that ironic?

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  3. I didn't realize the UK is better prepared than the USA, Chris! That shocks me.

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  4. Melissa, I'm very surprised to hear that Congress cut funding recently for pandemic flu. Ironic name, indeed.

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  5. > Why didn't the Department of Health have a stockpile of face masks ready before now?

    Perhaps they *do* already have a stockpile, and are merely adding to it for addititional safety.

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  6. That's not how it's being reported though. It sounds like they don't have enough face masks for the health workers at the present time and have to order more.

    This is from an article today via BBC News:

    It is believed there are enough masks for half the NHS workforce, but officials are already in discussion with suppliers about ordering another 30m to help cope if a pandemic develops.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8024605.stm

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  7. I am a scientist and have a pretty good grasp of these things - they say that 100 people have died in Mexico of this swine flu, yet thousands of people die every year from common-or-garden seasonal flu. I think we are being rather hasty in thinking that this is any different. I saw a woman with swine flu being interviewed and she looked a thousand times better than I looked when I had the flu! I actually believe that this is a convenient way of distracting us from the financial crisis that we are in. Call me cynical! :-)

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  8. With respect, I find it hard to believe this is a convenient way to distract us from the financial crisis.

    I'm quite cynical myself but I also know that this swine flu has the potential to be quite serious because it's a new virus and no one will have immunity to it. And I think the WHO have to take it seriously and warn everyone in case the virus starts spreading from human to human and leads to a pandemic. It's better to be warned and be ready than not.

    I hope though that the virus will get less virulent over time. I think the fact that we are going into summer helps.

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  9. Sorry, I was being facetious there! I just try to take things I read in the media with a pinch of salt. The BBC is the worst culprit for sensationalist journalism. I had to switch Panadrama off the other day - it was driving me potty.

    I notice you are from the Twin Cities - my other half works there a lot! :-)

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  10. Oh I agree that we should take things we hear or read in the media with a pinch of salt. And I've also noticed that the BBC is the worst for sensationalist journalism.

    That's interesting - what a small world!

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