If it mutates, we are in heep big trouble Kimosabe.
"Bring out your dead!"
"Each year different flus come, but your immune system says, 'Ah, I've seen that guy before. No problem. Crank out some antibodies, and I might not feel great for a couple of days, but I'll recover,'" Garrett says. "Now what's scaring us is that this constellation of H number 5 and N number 1, to our knowledge, has never in history been in our species. So absolutely nobody watching this has any natural immunity to this form of flu."
While there is no vaccine to stop the flu, there is one medicine to treat it. Called Tamiflu, it is made by the Roche pharmaceutical company in Switzerland. Roche has been selling Tamiflu for years.
Only recently, however, did scientists learn of its potential to work against the killer flu, H5N1. That has since created a huge demand and a critical shortage.
"All of the wealthiest countries in the world are trying to purchase stockpiles of Tamiflu," says Garrett. "Our current stockpile is around 2.5 million courses of treatment."
According to Leavitt, that is a long way from the country's ideal stockpile. "Our objective is to have 20 million doses of Tamiflu or enough for 20 million people," he says.
If this flu turns into the pandemic that most researchers fear this winter, George Bush will be nailed to the barn door. I may drive a few nails myself. I would love to know how much money is being spent in the HHS and the CDC for AIDS while we leave our entire population vulnerable to an influenza strain with a 50% fatality rate.
Hopefully this winter will pass without an H5N1 outbreak, if it does and we buy ourselves another year to purchase enough doses of Tamiflu to protect our citizens, I will sleep a little sounder.