A while ago we had a flurry of comments (or at least what counts as a 'flurry' for this site) about avian flu, and whether or not the danger or a pandemic among humans was real, or just another example of media fear-mongering. This story from yesterday's New York Times has a little something for both camps. It's a mini-profile of Dr. Jeremy Farrar, a physician at Ho Chi Minhn City's Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Vietnam has seen more human avian flu cases than any other country in the world, and Dr. Farrar and his colleagues in Ho Chi Minhn are, therefore, some of the most experienced avian flu-fighters around.
Happily for me, since I was arguing that the danger of an avian flu epidemic was being exagerated, Dr. Farrar feels that a pandemic is unlikely. He also does not believe that tamiflu, the only drug available to fight avian flu, will be a likely solution to a pandemic should one arise. For those opposite me on this issue, however, Dr. Farrar reaffirms the killing potential of the virus if it manages to spread from human to human, and he feels that the world is still inadequately prepared for a pandemic, and has already lost valuable time in making such preparations.
Like both sides in our discussion, he would like to see the world spend a lot more money on basic health services in the developing world. He also recommends more funding for vaccine research, a point that I don't remember being made in our previous discussion (perhaps only because it wasn't made be me), but that certainly sounds like a good idea, too.