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« Dan's Thursday links, etc. | Main | Ten words »

Thursday, August 18, 2005

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benbrazil

Holy shit! This is the first time I've bothered to read anything on this, and it is quite scary. A flu currently killing nearly half the people it infects? Highest mortality among people 20-40?

Ouch.

Also, it's frightening that we're not MORE worried on the whole. It just seems like massive plagues are something humans, as a species, are past.

Apparently not.

But really, what do you do? Start stockpiling Tamiflu?

Daniel

Well, I wrote a newspaper peice on that question, and yes, stocking up on enough Tamiflu is one of the options. You need a prescription, but if you've got a sympathetic doctor and a few hundred bucks, you can lay in enough to protect yourself and a few others. A dose is about $7 or $8, and a treatment runs 10 days, so roundhouse figure at least $80 per treatment, per person.

But there are problems. First, there isn't enough Tamiflu to go around, so you have to at least consider the ethics involved. Second, osiltamivir (I think that's the name -- i'm working from memory) is effective as a preventative only while you're taking it, so if you start your 10-treatment and 20 days later the outbreak is still going on, oh well. Third, despite lab tests that say Tamiflu should work against H5N1, it hasn't. That may be because it wasn't used early enough in the Southeast Asian cases, but still.

Remember: In most pandemic projections, the U.S. infection rate is only around 30 percent, so figure two out of three people won't get the disease... They won't not-get-it because of Tamiflu, but because of basic behaviors and precautions.

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