Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Err....Yessss...I Too Am An Essential Worker, Really I Am

Hopefully, Health Minister Nicola Roxon is right :
"...we have 8.7 million courses of these antivirals in our stockpile."
And this news report is wrong :
Australia has stockpiled 8.7 million doses of the Tamiflu and Relenza drugs, which are believed to be effective in treating the virus.
This one, too :
...the Government has a stockpile of nearly 9 million doses to be used in the event of threatened epidemic.
The confusion over Doses and Courses is widespread in the Australian media.

Anti-virals are only as effective as they can be if a course of them is taken, a series of doses. Catching the New Flu and taking one or two Tamiflus or Relenzas is not expected to make much difference.

During a pandemic, the government's plan is to make sure doctors, nurses, hospital staff, ambulance drivers, body collectors, firefighters, some police, essential government and infrastructure workers get the anti-virals they need to keep doing their work surrounded by, and coming in regular contact, with a killer virus.

9 million doses of anti-virals is fuck all for 21 million Australians, if a course is six to twelve doses, with "essential workers" likely needing at least few courses over the many months it would take for a pandemic, or pandemic waves, to unfold.

9 million courses, however, will allow hundreds of thousands of workers to continue doing their jobs, while the rest of the population, for varying amounts of time, are confined to their homes, either voluntarily or under police order.

If there is a pandemic.

There will be anti-viral courses left over for some of the sick, and the ramped up production of anti-virals in Australia now (300 new jobs!) will reach government distribution points in a month or two. But, if 30 to 40% of the Australian population falls ill, over six months to a year or more of pandemic waves (as some experts are now predicting), the anti-viral production output in Australia will not satisfy demand.

If a pandemic becomes reality sooner rather than later, there will be extemely hard choices that will have to be made about whether people more likely to die from the virus, even if they have treatment, should be given a course of drugs that are in limited supply.

It's a surreal reality we might on the verge of being plunged into....

If a pandemic happens.


But a couple of weeks worth of food and water stockpiled in the home, just in case, and to be on the safe side, shouldn't be left to the last minute.

Like the YK2 episode, you can eventually get through all those extra cans of soup and bags of rice crowdiing up the spare room later on if nothing happens, or donate it to charity.

The QLD Government's 'Pandemic Planning In The Workplace' Guide

September 2005 : Then Health Minister Tony Abbott On Influenza Pandemic In Australia - Die In Your Homes