Swine Flu: Panic-Mongering for Donations, or a Real Threat?

I don’t know which, myself:

The swine flu pandemic could kill millions and cause anarchy in the world’s poorest nations unless £900m can be raised from rich countries to pay for vaccines and antiviral medicines, says a UN report leaked to the Observer.

The disclosure will provoke concerns that health officials will not be able to stem the growth of the worldwide H1N1 pandemic in developing countries. If the virus takes hold in the poorest nations, millions could die and the economies of fragile countries could be destroyed.

Health ministers around the globe were sent the warning on Thursday in a report on the costs of averting a humanitarian disaster in the next few months. It comes as officials inside the World Health Organisation, the UN’s public health body, said they feared they would not be able to raise half that amount because of the global downturn.

If this isn’t panic-mongering, then we need to really get on this…too many lives are at stake, and in addition to the loss of lives would be the massive disruption of global civilization. In my view, better safe than sorry – time to tap TARP and throw some money at this problem, rather than the problem of bankers. If it is panic-mongering, then we’ll have wasted a bit more than a billion dollars…which Congress can waste in five minutes, on a good day.

I’ve heard, over the months, both the worst-case and nothing-to-worry-about scenarios on this pandemic – while I’ve tended towards the nothing-to-worry-about, I can’t help but notice the similarities between this outbreak and the 1918-19 flu…and while we in the wealthy nations will get off lighter than the poorer nations, the fact remains that a great deal of what we use in our nation comes from the labor of people in poor nations…given how stupid we’ve been about outsourcing our hard work, we now lack the capacity to look after ourselves in a crisis. And this knowledge just reinforces my better-safe-than-sorry approach.