Remember the Swine Flu chaos?

Here’s one more example of how Google Trends could be a useful tool to tell if something has been researched, talked or studied long enough to avoid a problem (in this case a pandemic health problem).

Image of Google Flu Trends (February 15th, 2011)

In the last 5 years there hasn’t been much news on swine flu in the news. Now the US and the rest of the world is trying to find out a way of stopping the pandemia; if lucky they will get to stop it soon enough before more people dies. A vaccine won’t be ready in the near future and once again the government seems to be failing to “miraculously solve” our problems.

In democratic systems like ours, it is in moments of crisis that civilians demand government intervention on their private rights. Those interventions include telling what we should do, how and when. Borders are closed and commerce declines. History has shown that this tendency has been present all over the last 4,000 years. Are we heading to the same mistakes or at least very similar ones?

It looked like the flu pandemic the world had been dreading for 50 years: A virus, seen only in animals for several decades, had made the leap to humans and, more ominously, had passed from person to person.

Yet for the first time in history, scientific knowledge and government funding might be able to stop the flu in its tracks, saving a million lives at risk. Within months, Americans were lining up to be vaccinated against the virus. Then, in another triumph of nature’s unpredictability over human planning, the flu virus simply disappeared.

Incubated in pigs but not seen in humans since the 1920s, swine flu broke out in February 1976 at an Army base in New Jersey.

However noble the sentiment, the National Swine Flu Immunization Program, announced by President Gerald Ford just a month after the virus had been identified, became a public-health debacle that probably cost more lives than it saved. (read more: Deja Vu: Politics greeted outbreak of swine flu in 1976).


Una respuesta

  1. ¡Surprise!


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