Spanish flu was responsible for the deaths of 50 million people worldwide in just 18 months at the beginning of the 20th Century. Viewed against this history, it is little surprise that scientists, politicians and the general public are warily watching the developing avian influenza crisis as it spreads from its origins in Asia to Central Europe and beyond.
Because it is a newly developed virus, human immunity to the virus is essentially zero. The spread of avian influenza is currently inhibited by its inability to pass from human to human. However, if the virus develops this ability, a possibility seen likely by many, an outbreak would be difficult to stem. The interconnectedness of our global economy could, ironically, be turned against us.
Researchers are scrambling to develop a vaccine for avian influenza, but have been stymied thus far by the random nature of the virus’s evolution. Since there is no way to predict with any certainty the nature of the virus when and if it does develop the capacity to pass from human to human, it is virtually impossible to know what defenses might work best against it.
Given the lack of predictability but terrible potential of avian influenza, what should our priorities be in preparing for the possibility of another pandemic? Should our resources be focused on the development of a vaccine, or would planning to combat the spread of the virus and reduce the scope of any outbreak be a better use of precious resources?
In the event of an outbreak President Bush has suggested affecting a quarantine enforced by the National Guard. Would it work to isolate the virus? How would the nation react to regionalized, militarized quarantines?
Join us for this conversation about panic, profits, vaccinations and quarantines.
This Week’s Articles
- Avian Bird Flu Could Kill a Billion
- Quarantine Flu? It won’t work
- The Next Pandemic?
- Intervention & the United States’ Strategy
- Bird Flu: The Panic & the Profits
For more informaiton, please contact Kristin Millikan at 312.422.5580.
- Cafe Society will not meet the week of Nov. 22-25.
- For the following week, Nov. 29-Dec 1, we will NOT MEET at individual cafes, but will host a CITY-WIDE conversation on identity and hybridity featuring the Tropicalia exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art on Tuesday, November 29.