From the outset, let me disclose that I am not a microbiologist, but a geologist by training. My concern here however is not a question of knowledge, but a question of thought process, or specifically, an absence of critical thinking. An article in the Japan Times raises the prospects of an epidemic on the basis of new emergent strains in China. These developments strike me as reason for concern because they might point to a failure in government policy. This failure might be mirrored in other sectors analogous to this one. The intent here is not to 'argue from analogy', but rather to raise an analogy, since I'm not aware of the biological processes to really question their process. Biologists and policy makers can take what is useful with respect to this issue.
Richard Webby, director of a World Health Organization flu center at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: "The virus has genetic markers that would help it infect people, Webby said. That makes him worry about a pandemic slightly more than he does over other bird flu viruses, such as the H5N1 strain that emerged a decade ago".
My concern is that attempts to control the spread of the virus might actually be aiding the virility of the virus. One might question if the analogy of a bushfire has any application. When governments adopt fire prevention methods like backburning and firebreaks, they actually enhance the prospects of a threat by increasing the threat where they don't backburn. i.e. Backburning is used to prevent fires spreading. The problem is that the fuel remains on the ground so that the intensity of fires is even worse when they eventually occur. The problem is that there are people who are set on starting fires because that know this. Perhaps they are exponents of more regular backburning, or maybe they are just looking for cheap thrills.
The question is, does the attempts by governments to prevent the spread of the H5N1 virus diminish our risk, or might the government be creating a systematic risk. How many people have taken the vaccine for H5N1? My concern is that people who have not might confront a more sinister version because they have not been exposed to a more 'benign' strain by preventive public policy.
The same issue arises with the global financial crisis, where politicians and the Federal Reserve ignored the indebtedness in the property market; and 'managed the issue' by artificially lowering interest rates. We might wonder if the Spanish flu on 1918 was any different. My understanding was that this epidemic occurred because of poor hygiene conditions in WWI trenches made the soldiers susceptible to disease. That might be considered a different context. More vulnerable than old people in any society? Well, the avian flu seems to strike the more healthy people, with healthier immune systems. i.e. You actually die of an excessive immune response, in the sense that your lungs fill up with mucus.
Leave it to the professionals you say. I think not. But don't let me decide...I'm just some sucker who knows better than the government....or at least so it seems. I leave you with my first public warning (of many) about the risk posed by government set on deferring a financial crisis. I might add that I was far from the first or only person to anticipate a crisis. It was others warnings that alerted me. In this spirit, I alert you. You will have to apply your own 'critical' judgement. More importantly perhaps, you might spare a thought for the efficacy of political decision-making.