Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pandemic Flu a Distinct Possiblity for Common Masses

The new combined swine/bird/human flu virus killed many young, healthy people in Mexico. The CDC already threw up its hands on containment. The World Health Organization may act in place of the CDC. While America's public health arm dithered, Wall Street noted the money making implications of a flu pandemic. Funny, I wrote on this topic nearly a year ago.

While scientist Craig Venter intelligently designs new organisms by creating DNA, the Bush administration wants to provide guidance to health care decision makers who should live and die in a health care crisis. The assumption is a scarcity of medical resources will require providers to prioritize who receives care and who is left untreated.

With 47 million Americans without health insurance, a projected shortage of up to 238,000 physicians by 2025, emergency rooms already stretched to their limit and little excess hospital capacity, it won't take much of an outbreak to tax the system. The stockpile of bird flu vaccines is rather paltry for our nation of 300 million people. The federal plan calls for stockpiling drugs (like Tamiflu) to treat 44 million Americans, only 15% of the population. States were encouraged to do likewise. By taking advantage of federal subsidies an additional 31 million could be covered. That brings the total to 75 million, only 25% of the population. That leaves 75% or 225 million citizens on their own.

Think about that while the flu spreads (hopefully very slowly). Public health in Texas is a joke for illegal immigrants. The very people left out of the care system might be carrying or spreading disease.

America's number of uninsureds is closer to 50 million with the economic implosion. Want to bet TARP recipients make the high priority for inoculation list? America has trillions invested in big money sector. Those CEO's might want to check who's emptying their trash. That uninsured contractor might not be up to date on their flu shot or have access to anti-viral medication.

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