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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

This is strange

FEMA orders 80 million smallpox vaccine doses

US stock of vaccine is ~ 180 million doses already, up from ~ 20 million in 2001.
That's $2.5 billion spending - why? The threat is large, but live virus is almost impossible to get.

New Zealand, Canada and various European countries are also all moving to acquire very large vaccine stockpiles, basically for 100% population coverage; far more than needed to firewall any plausible point breakout.

2 Comments:

Anonymous jfaberuiuc said...

I swear the biggest problem with US emergency preparedness is that no one seems to ever figure out what the real problems are. As we saw with Katrina, transportation for the vehicularly challenged, both before and AFTER the hurricane, is rather crucial. If three kids from Duke, having never been to N.O., driving a Hyundai (?!?!) can do it, then one could suggest that a busing scheme starting as soon as the winds die down is eminently feasible.

Another example: in a hurricane, one needs to assume that one's residence may have water reach 10-15 feet above sea level, be hit with 100-120 mph winds, and likely have several trees fall onto/into it. If this will lead to structural collapse, one needs to evacuate. This applies to almost all wooden dwellings, and virtually any place in NO except apparently the French Quarter and business district. Large concrete structures on high ground, like some of the big NO hotels, need not be evacuated, and make perfect staging areas for emergency personnel, as long as people stay away from windows (hint to FEMA...). I'll be happy to wager that a good number of people evacuated from the north and west suburbs of Houston who didn't need to go.

I think you are dead on with respect to small-pox, since the number of doses is clearly sufficient. I'd be so bold as to suggest that their location and ease of distribution matters more at this point than acquiring enough to cover every person in the country, since many people won't catch it.

5:18 PM  
Blogger Steinn said...

yeah, easier to fight the last war.
I gather from 'flu blogs that the US Surgeon General does not have plenipotent powers to "do stuff" in case of pandemics, unlike equivalent positions in other countries.
Somthing tells me the distribution consists of "throw them in the general direction of the States and hope something happens". I expect that will work in Maine and Minnesota and maybe two or three other states. Maybe.

But why this concern over smallpox? It faked me out in 2001/2003 when I genuinely thought that the only explanation for what were apparently irrational government actions were top-secret super-duper intel on actual smallpox virus on the loose. That turned out to be total crap.

So, fool me once...?
On the other hand New Zealanders are not historically prone to panic. Maybe it is time to check what landlæknir in Iceland has decreed on smallpox in last year or two...

5:44 PM  

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