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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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Ebola is not a problem. It can't spread because it 1) can't survive outside the body for more than a very short period in any but a tropical jungle climate (and even there it's only minutes), 2) its incubation period is too short (someone who gets infected at the airport in Brazzaville would show symptoms by arrival in New York so the entire aircraft would be quarantined).SARS is more of a problem but turned out to also be not very effective at spreading, possibly because it is less contageous than originally thought.H5N1 at the moment is even less of a problem. It can't spread at all between humans and the mortallity rate is lower than SARS (let alone Ebola).To counter Don's argument that companies work only for short term profits: companies are spending massive amounts of funding on Ebola and SARS related research despite the fact that there's little chance of recovering that investment ever.The reason is simply that being seen to do something against these high profile diseases is excellent PR.There's little to be gained from releasing a vaccine against a disease that can't even infect people except a very small group of people handling birds on a daily basis (and those are more cheaply protected using facemasks and things like that).Flu virusses don't lend themselves to proactively creating vaccines because they mutate too quickly.That's why every few years the flu vaccine concocted for that year (which is done based on predictions of which strain of the virus will be prevalent the next year) doesn't work. In this case it's even harder as the virus is a totally new entrant into the field and doesn't even exist as a human flu virus yet.

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R&D at universities is paid largely BY the drugs companies.They may not all have massive R&D departments (most do in fact) but they do have large budgets for it.They also have to spend billions in certification trials, lawsuits brought by people who claim they got a headache from a pill and therefore are due a billion dollars in damages, patent licenses to universities and other agencies, etc. etc.Production cost is also rather high.

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I think he was referring mostly to Don's ideals of government controlled production schedules and forcing those businesses which don't work for free to shut down.Your idea is rather communist as well, setting a legal limit to the profitabillity of companies.Investment happens everywhere, it's the lifeblood of companies. Those that don't invest in the future of their business go under, that's the law of the jungle (which indeed some of them don't understand, but they won't survive).If no company invested in R&D and product development I'd be out of a job, I've been working on product development since 1999.In fact, if companies didn't invest there'd be no new products hitting the market at all anywhere, something that you can see every day isn't so.But companies should NOT invest their money in things that simply will never work out.And creating a vaccine for a virus you don't even know what it's going to look like IF it maybe at some point in the future may exist is exactly such a venture.Noone knows what a human transmissable variant of this beast will be, or if it will even exist at all.All we know is that in the past flu virusses have popped up that seem to have made the cross from birds to mammals, but even that isn't certain (all we know is that the 1918 virus shows similarities with bird flu virusses, but it's not known how those came to be).Would you have your company invest millions or billions in a venture that has a 90% chance of failing completely, a 5% chance of not failing but resulting in a loss making product, a 3% chance of breaking even, and a 2% chance of turning a profit? That product, IF it works out, might save 100 million lifes.That's a 95% chance of potentially costing you your job.Would you still support it if you knew that the chances of that product being needed (even if it makes the market in time to make a difference) are 1%? Therefore the chances of getting a positive return on investment are even smaller...You now have a 99% chance of having thrown away your entire company budget even if you do succeed in creating the product.

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>no unions. Besides, the unions in this country have almost no>power today. The jobs that are being sent to our CommunistTell that to the people who loose their jobs (thousands every year) because unions make completely insane demands to companies causing those companies to go under in the resulting strikes.Unions are interested in only one thing: bringing along the communist world revolution which can only happen if the proletariat (low paid and unemployed people) is large enough.>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 ChineseI agree with that. But apparently the people of the USA think differently and prefer to buy products made in China because they're cheaper than the locally produced equivalent.It's simple, there are US made products available but noone buys them.If a US made television cost $200 more than its Chinese equivalent (which is almost completely labour cost), that US made TV doesn't sell.So the manufacturer can do 2 things: sell at a $200 a unit loss (which will lead them into bankruptcy) or move production to a cheaper place like China.Thank the unions for getting US salaries to the point where US workers can no longer compete on a global market.It's not about profits, it's about survival. I might loose my job too, not because the company wants more profits but because I cost 3 times as much as my colleagues in Romania which means our product costs 2 times as much to create as one that's created by those colleagues in Romania.A competitor who creates his products in Romania can therefore sell his product for 50% less than can we, guess which product customers will go for?It's YOU, the customer and union member, who causes companies to go oversees.>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. Then you should BUY AMERICAN (or whatever your country is), and not buy the cheapest because that gives you an extra dollar to spend on another cheap Chinese product.And try to convince Joe Average to do the same, something that won't be easy at all.You're as usual blaming the business owners for catering to a demand. Again you're reversing economic realities, trying to dictate corporate policy from a government level, trying to create a centrally controlled communist economy very similar to what China has (ironic isn't it...).P.S. I indeed do as I preach. I buy local products if available even if they cost more, I don't buy Chinese products at all unless there's no alternative (yes, I check product labels to see where they're made), I even go as far as to not buy online from other countries if I can find a local source of the same product even if that local source is a third more expensive.But many declare me insane for doing that, for supporting the local economy and trying to help preserve local jobs.

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My attitude isn't communist! LMAO! That was a dumb statement! My attitude is against DRUG COMPANIES and other companies, and their #1 need to make the almighty dollar. They are so worried about liabilities and profits, the humane factor of what they do is skipped. That is reality. Being against large companies and the way they do business does not make one a communist. I think you all need to re-examine what a communist is. I believe in a capitalistic society, providing it isn't used to abuse, break, gouge, suppress, or ignore the people who are paying for it to remain a capitalistic society. It is the extreme greediness that is spawned from capitalism that is dangerous, and that my friends, is what this country is traveling through right now. It will be a matter of survival one day when we are 100% dependent on the rest of the world. Who will the super power be then? Suppliers have the power. When we are no longer the supplier, that puts us under the supplier. THEY are now the super power. You may call them Communist Red China, if you like. You'll be correct. That is where extreme capitalistic greed will drive us. Right into their grubby little hands. We'll lose. They'll win. ####, we're borrowing money from China to run the country as it is! America needs to wake back up and start back on a path that will make us self-sufficent, and keep more of dollars inside the country for its own people. Capitalism is great. Capitalism can also crush. As with FS9, it all depends on where you place the slidder in the capitalism button. As far as the drug companies go, I don't feel a bit sorry for any corporation who posts billions of dollars in profits, and then cries the blues. THAT is the greed that will eventually destroy us. That isn't a communist statement. That is reality. Greed ALWAYS destroys.Don

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That is the problem! There are no more American product made in America to buy. There are no TV sets made here. Almost no clothing is made here anymore. Even sneakers are imported. Walmart, Kmart, and all the rest are nothing but Chinese supply houses with American names on them. I'd pay more for the products if they were made here, and so would many others. The unions are NOT the problem. Unions are dying out. I suggest you go study the reasons why unions were formed in America many years ago. At one time, they were a very necessary thing. Bottom line is that the American worker, at ALL levels, is now being hurt in numbers never before thought of, and it all has to do with excessive corporate greed. Sure, I expect companies to turn a profit. But at what expense to the people of the nation does one see it become unhealthy for the nation as a whole?Don

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Sorry, but you did it to yourself.If you'd said NO to Japanese and Korean cars Detroit would still be strong.Same with Chinese coffee makers and clothes, Japanese electronics, and Taiwanese toys.But you didn't say no when an enterpreneur imported the first batches of Sony TVs and Nikon cameras, when a clothing emporium started selling Chinese flipflops.Instead you bought it like there was no tomorrow because it was so cheap.You can't blame companies for shifting production capacity to places where it's cheaper when they can't compete because union salaries (which ARE the cause) make US workers too expensive.Yes, unions were a good thing in the past but they've outgrown their usefulness.There are laws now dictating working conditions and even minimal wages (and in other countries things are going further, with plans to have the government dictate what every job should pay within very rigid margins, say byebye to free markets).Unions have adapted and gotten more activist, bent now on destroying companies and gaining political power rather than helping their members.

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You're against free markets, for total government control of everything.That's de-facto (if not theoretical) communism...If companies are afraid of frivolous liability lawsuits, blame lawyers and lawmakers, not companies.When a restaurant for example can get forced to pay millions because someone got burned when she dropped a cup of coffee there's something fundamentally wrong with your legal system.Don't blame the companies for moving offshore where such lawsuits aren't possible, it's a matter of survival.

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Well, I don't disagree with a thing you say, except for your suggestion that I have communist leanings , so I guess we agree!For the record, I would not "set" profit levels, I was speaking from more from a idealistic point of view. I do feel that in the long run, profit *purely* for the sake of profit, without some sort of larger goal can be a stumbling block. Companies that do not act as good stewards and use their profit for higher purposes, be it R&D, product development, growth/expansion/new jobs, etc may find themselves at the short end of the stick in the long run.bt

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Where did I say government should control everything? I am FOR a free-market system. I am FOR capitalism. BUT....when companies gouge and take advantage of people, that is where I draw the line. Infact, so does the senate. They are looking at what to do about gas companies who inflated their prices during the last storm. Yes, the government does overlook business in a freemarket society. Communism is state run businesses, and nowhere have I ever said I favor that. Never. Those are your words, not mine. Another thing that is bad is our offset balance of trade. It is fine to buy foreign goods, provided we are exporting somewhere in the neighborhood of the same dollar amount to the country we are importing from. Our trade deficit is so tilted away from us, we are now forced to buy what is put on the shelves. And I still disagree with the union argument. I worked in a factory for 10 years. Those jobs are gone. We were a NON-UNION company. 15% of the total U.S. labor force is union. That leaves 85% that is not, and that is where the biggest losses are in this country. The unions are the first ones that everyone blames, but in reality, they are the smaller % of the whole equation. Toss in NAFTA and CAFTA too! What a joke!Don

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