Britain unprepared for flu pandemic shock

Reuters is reporting that general practitioner Steve Hajioff warns that the UK’s preparations for a bird flu pandemic are inadequate.

The UK is on high alert for bird flu following the dead swan incident in Scotland and is stockpiling vaccine. Hajioff, however, suggests that the impact on infrastructure of an avian influenza epidemic would be like a thousand 9/11’s. “In the present day, you are talking about five million people across Europe and hundreds of thousands in the UK. It’s like 1,000 September 11ths all at once,” he said.

The insensitivity of such a phrase aside, Hajioff went on to tell BBC radio: “I’m a GP and I can prepare my surgery, but if the electricity company that supplies my power has not prepared, then I am not going to be able to treat patients.”

What worries me, is whether or not Dr Hajioff is qualified to offer a new thread to the scare-mongering surrounding bird flu in this way. Maybe he is. His website tells us he “is a broadcaster, a healthcare informatics consultant, a public health physician, and a writer.” It goes on to say that he has a particular interest in international health systems, communicable disease control and electronic data security.” Interestingly(?), “For fun, he paints, skis, cooks and drives his MG. He is also a keen MIDI musician.”

And, seeing as the reporting on his offering to BBC Radio suggests he didn’t actually tell the audience anything that isn’t fairly obvious then perhaps he is qualified after all.

Just for the record, despite the continued scaremongering for almost every H5N1 is yet to mutate into a human transmissable form and the evidence points to the likelihood that such a mutant would have less virulence among humans than H5N1 has among birds.

We’ll see.