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Flu pandemic...probable chaos?

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http://wired.com/news/medtech/0,1286,69157...tw=wn_tophead_3is YASAAF (yet another story about Asian Flu)My thoughts, based upon what I've read about preparation here and elsewhere, are that a flu pandemic will be like Hurricane Katrina...we can plan and prepare all we want (and we should, or the finale will look like N.O. vs. Galviston), but the outcome will still be costly, and in the end, there's not much you can do to fight Mother Nature when she decides to come out on this scale and magnitude.Thoughts?bt

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I have a feeling this is getting very over-rated. In Asia, where there are BILLIONS of people, only 50 people have died. I'll bet more people (there) were killed today falling off of roofs, just by the shear numbers of people. Last year, the U.S. couldn't supply itself with regular flu vaccine. IF this does come to fruition, we could never develop, manufacture, and innoculate the U.S. population, let alone the world. ####, on the news Saturday night, they said the drug companies didn't really want to deal with it, due to the expense. They were afraid of not making a profit. So much for modern medicine! It all boils down to money.Don

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If and when (scientists are so far only speculating it could possibly happen) this virus mutates into a form which can be transmitted directly from human to human it could indeed get very serious indeed and lead to a pandemic in days.Of course it boils down to money. They're companies, companies do what they do to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that.In fact governments do what they do to make a profit as well, except there the profit is measured not in money but in greater power and influence over the people or countries they assist, or greater prestige (and thus power and influence) on a global scale.People who give to charity do so out of the same profit idea. They (or many of them) want to be able to brag about each other about how much they donate, show off how much of a good samaritan they are.That gives them prestige and a warm fuzzy feeling inside.Aid organisations play on that by trying to set a mood of guilt in those who don't donate, making them feel they're somehow responsible for the fact that some natural disaster happened because they didn't give money to that organisation earlier.Yes, a global pandemic of a viral disease which spreads rapidly between humans and has an incubation period of more than a few days (the great weakness of Ebola) could cost tens of millions (if not more) lifes on a global scale in a few weeks or months.The 1918 flu was responsible for around 50 million casualties, and that was before air travel made it almost certain every corner of the globe could be reached by infected persons before they start to show symptoms (and can be quarantined or avoided).But the chances of that happening are rather slim. And scientists are working on trying to understand how it happens which may lead to them understanding how to prevent it without shutting down the airways.

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"Of course it boils down to money. They're companies, companies do what they do to make a profit. Nothing wrong with that."There IS something wrong with that. IF this was to turn into a world-wide epidemic, death would be prefered by them over loss of profits. Money is not everything, and any company who refuses to help out mankind because of a profit margin, should be shutdown. Don

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Not overrated at all. The H5N1 flu virus that is so far only contagious among birds, has killed around 50% of the humans who have contracted it through exposure to infected birds. Most of them were young and healthy.If the virus mutates to a human-transmittable form, with a mortality rate that high, the results would be catastrophic, which is why it's getting so much attention.The problem with profitability for the drug companies is that they are being asked to shell out $millions right now to create vaccines against a disease which may or may not ever come into existence. Once a human pandemic begins, no amount of money can make up for the time lost now. The governments of the world should be investing heavily in preventative measures...this basic responsibility to protect the populations of countries around the world does not fall on the drug companies.I think it's patently unfair to characterize the people in the drug companies as preferring mass death to loss of profits. It's somewhat like accusing you of preferring mass starvation to personal profit because you elected to eat a steak at a restaurant last night rather than eat rice gruel and sending the rest of the money to Africa where there are lots of starving people. It's easy to demand that the other guy give up the fruits of his labors for humankind...but it's hypocritical to do so while living in a nice house and eating regularly when you could give up the fruits of YOUR labors to help those people in just the same manner. I don't begrudge a good living to the brilliant folks who make the drugs that have improved life for nearly all of us. I happen to know a few of them, and they're not rolling in cash. That group would be the legions of lawyers perched everywhere drooling on themselves over the opportunity to capitalize on their slightest mistake.Food for thought.Bob ScottATP IMEL Gulfstream II-III-IV-V L-300Santiago de Chile

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"I think it's patently unfair to characterize the people in the drug companies as preferring mass death to loss of profits."American companies have no problem throwing their workers out into the streets to gain profits by overseas labor. What happens to these outcasted workers is not on the books, nor is it in the minds of these companies. Death is nothing at all to them when it comes to the bottom line. They make billions in profits every year. Billions. God forbid they do something for man-kind rather than for profit. It isn't like they haven't gouged us all at one point or another. Billions in profits EVERY YEAR. It is not done for mankind. It is for the green. THAT is sorry, in my book.Don

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Hi Don...I agree with you. But I agree with Bob too.I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Both on the probability of a pandemic occurring sometime in the near future, and the morality of capitalism.BTW, does anyone think SARS is a kind of preview of a true pandemic? I mean as an example of a mildly killing (pandemic-capable?) virus that came from nowhere, kills quickly, and then disappears into the background...like Ebola? (A side note, SARS killed many more than H5N1. Don't believe me, Google it.)Answer.com defines SARS as a "Mystery virus", but goes on to define its components. I think the mystery is how it happened in the first place. On the other hand, just because it is a mystery, does not make it unexplainable. It is a mutation, just as cancer is a mutation.http://www.answers.com/topic/sarsThis link is a compliation of many links from both govt and private sources on the topic of H5N1 (courtesy of Google "H5N1")Edit: I removed the link because it lacked currency. Google your own information about H5N1Any thoughts about SARS v. H5N1?bt

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These drug corporations "should" pay taxes commensurate with those profits. Tax-funded research at academic institutions is where innovation really happens. Apparently, R&D is a relatively small part of the budgets of drug companies. They are mainly marketing machines.Danny

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Gee Don, how do you expect the officers of those companies to keep those employees on the payroll after their former customers switch to the less expensive imported competition? Most consumers will gladly save ten or fifteen persent on the stuff they buy at the big box discount store without even checking the label to see where it was made. And if the corporation's officers are spending more manufacturing goods onshore than the retailers are paying, the officers are going to join the domestic laborers (who will be layed off anyway) in the unemployment line.The basic concept is that corporation's sole reasons for existance are to earn dividends or capital gains for the shareholders. The manufacture of goods, weather they are Tee shirts or vaccines, are just a way of generating revenues in excess of costs. If the goods don't sell, as would be the case if a flu crisis doesn't occur, the corporation could end up bankrupt.Now if an HMO or government signs a contract to buy the vaccine weather a crisis occurs or not, then the idea works from the corporation's viewpoint. Places a monetary burden on the HMO members or taxpayers though.And with so many investment supported pesion plans, 401Ks and mutual funds a significant portion of middle class Americans are eash VERY minor stockholders in dozens of corporations. While these fractional shares are each a small portion of a corporation's outstanding shares, they add up to significant portions of many corporations ownership. There's a significant posibility one of those "evil" profit seeking shareholders will be stareing back at you the next time you look in the mirror!

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>"I think it's patently unfair to characterize the people in>the drug companies as preferring mass death to loss of>profits.">>American companies have no problem throwing their workers out>into the streets to gain profits by overseas labor. What>happens to these outcasted workers is not on the books, nor is>it in the minds of these companies. Death is nothing at all to>them when it comes to the bottom line. They make billions in>profits every year. Billions. God forbid they do something for>man-kind rather than for profit. It isn't like they haven't>gouged us all at one point or another. Billions in profits>EVERY YEAR. It is not done for mankind. It is for the green.>THAT is sorry, in my book.And to think that I thought the communist manifesto was buried somewhere in the former USSR...If you own stocks or mutual funds, invest in an IRA or a 401K or receive a pension from a private pension fund, then "they" is "we." Those evil profits are what pay the pensions of most of the retired people in the country. They are what underlie the insurance funds that time and time again have weathered the biggest disasters to make record payouts without going under. Just where exactly do you think those $billions in horrible, evil excess profit end up going? Mostly right back to private everyday citizens, in one form or another.I find myself wondering...did those nefarious companies "throw their US workers out in the streets"...or did those workers and their greedy labor unions simply price themselves right out of their jobs? In any event, the members of that horrible awful nasty "overseas" labor force seem to be quite happy to have the evil dastardly profit-mongering corporate monsters come and lay the opportunity to earn a decent living on their doorsteps.I await with bated breath a good discussion on how an illiterate high-school dropout doing menial labor on a Detroit auto assembly line is somehow worth $40 an hour, when a non-U.S. worker with the same level of education can and will do that same work for $2 an hour. Maybe the problem is how unbelievably spoiled and arrogant we are to actually expect that Detroit worker to keep his overcompensated job in a globally competitive labor market. It isn't the companies that are the problem...maybe it's that some of us have lost all sense of perspective.Anyway, I feel a good communist-socialist protectionist versus free-market capitalist debate coming on.RegardsBob ScottATP IMEL Gulfstream II-III-IV-V L-300Santiago de Chile

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hey Bob...just to level set, I am a die-hard capitalist...but it does have its warts.Profits like salary, should be proportional. Once you reach a certain level, craving more for more's sake *only* is not productive. You must invest and return that good fortune.A happy working member of a US Fortune 500 company who happens to be a stockholder too, hence a reaper of "profit",bt

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"Anyway, I feel a good communist-socialist protectionist versus free-market capitalist debate coming on."As long as it stays adult, lucid and minus personal attacks, it will, I am sure... but if it goes down the slippery slope, you can sure it will be locked or removed. Everyone has been fairly warned. :)

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If companies didn't abuse workers years ago, there would be no unions. Besides, the unions in this country have almost no power today. The jobs that are being sent to our Communist friends were not all union jobs. In fact, I believe less than 15% of all jobs in the U.S. are union. It isn't the greedy workers. It is the greedy stockholders and mega-overpriced CEO's and officers who are grabbing all the profits. Just as Communism, which is an extreme measure, is bad, so is a totally free-market capitalistic society. They are both extremes, and both are bad to any society. There has to be a balance. Right now it favors the haves, at the sacrifice of the have nots. Yes, right out of Marx's book. This is a dangerous situation because now we are dependent for everything. A superpower should NOT be dependent on anyone for anything. While jobs are sent to our Communist Chinese friends, the companies make the extra profit due to lower overhead of workers, and at the same time, the Red Chinese are making a profit to re-arm to a level that in many cases, exceeds our levels today. With the world fighting in every corner, we need to rethink our usage of foreign anything, including cheap labor. Where are the fired and layed-off workers now working? They are moving into the lower wage, low or no benefit service sector. Not a place to grow as a country when the poor class is expanding. This is supposed to be America. The American dream is not for everyone anymore, and is falling apart at a very rapid rate. Capitalism to the extremes that it is at today is causing our country to fail its people, but favor its corporate base. Not good. I want to see the country back to being the busiest and best producers of products, and not having to settle for foreign, slave-labor materials that are making profits and livings for the wealthy only. We need to be a self-sufficent country once again. Don

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I just hope the COLONEL from KFC is monitoring these comments.For that matter Frank Purdue also.WOW!Soon the biggest poultry day is upon us,Thanksgiven,hope were all thankful. Would not like to see mass panic. So far its just talk.Then again the Bubonic Plague started like that ,just talk. So chaos, is always possible,and in fact has visited us many times.They say now watch your fish intake,then,watch the Mad Cow thing,and does MICKY D,still using Kangaroo meat?(thats a joke son) Now the culinary world has given us a sinister concern for we, who like to continue to eat in peace.Well something gotta kill us all.Floods, earthquakes,volcano's,and who knows what else. Soo! EAT DRINK AND BE MERRY! and of course "DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY" VIN

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If future profits are in danger because of a loss of image or loss of customer base, that is reason to be charitable.Or maybe it's a government's job to provide in such cases, as national security can be said to be involved (though that's a rather shakey argument).Your attitude is communist and in start contrast of what has been proven to work which is a free market economy, central control of everything and no economic freedom. Everything you want should happen and noone elses' opinion matters...

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