Monday, March 06, 2006

The Bird Flu Won't Wait

Reading the NY Times Op-Ed piece (March 3, 2006) by Kendall Hoyt, an assistant professor at Dartmouth Medical School and an associate with the New England Center for Emergency Preparedness, reminded me how much this whole bird flu thing is starting to sound like Y2K. Remember Y2K, the disaster that never happened. The 2 digit code for the year 2000, ‘00’ is the same as the two digit code for 1900. This was supposed to confuse computers causing them to fail. This failure was predicted by the same computer experts who could fix it for us. Are you seeing the parallels? Here in the US we spent serious money to prevent this disaster. Do you remember the Y2K preparedness certifications we filled out. There was no Y2K disaster. In the third world, where no one spent any money getting ready, there was no Y2K disaster. Now we have medical researchers telling us that if we do not spend Everitt Dirkson levels of money on, you guessed it, improved medical research, we will becomes victims of this new disaster.

Can’t anyone out there spell hubris? We are not as smart as we think we are. When we are driving we never see the cop who pulls us over, or the car that we hit. Why do we think we can prepare for large scale disasters any better. We fail to see what is coming and prepare for what will not. The bird flu will stay just that, a flu that kills birds. The interconnectedness of the world may provide the vehicle for a pandemic but we won’t see it coming. I bet we will get a bunch of really cool new medical toys.


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