According to recent research, the drug Tamiflu successfully suppresses the avian flu virus, which public health experts say threatens to cause a world flu pandemic.
The tests conducted on 80 mice demonstrated that Tamiflu could kill the newest strain of the H5N1 virus that has infected poultry in Vietnam, Cambodia, and China. In fact, the researchers reported a 50% to 80% survival rate in mice given high doses of the drug 5.
However, public health officials do not paint a particularly promising picture, if the avian flu were currently to begin spreading rapidly among humans; “We need to know whether the antiviral drugs can prevent and treat the avian flu, because in the early stages of a global outbreak most people would be unvaccinated” said Dr. Anthony Fauci head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which funded the study.
Officials claim it would take months to manufacture and distribute the medication. Experts also fear the new, ever morphing strains of the virus are more dangerous than the 1997 version that killed six people in Hong Kong.
So far the disease has killed more than 50 people in Asia. In an effort to prepare for a pandemic, governments are stockpiling Tamiflu.
Now that this information has come to light, the following report raises concern on the part of experts in the area of medical ethics.
Some Canadian doctors have begun assembling personal stockpiles of Tamiflu in order to protect themselves and their families.
Even the public health practitioner Michael Osburn of the Center for Infectious Disease Control, who officially believes that the government should be in charge of distributing drugs during a pandemic admits “as a husband a father, and a friend, do I think the idea of personally stockpiling is something you should be considering? Absolutely.”
In addition to its questionable ethics, the practice of stockpiling is problematic in other respects including the possible emergence of strains of the flu resistant to the medication, Tamiflu’s five year shelf life, and the drugs high cost, which at 5 dollars a pill would not be affordable for everyone.
While those who can, prepare for the worst through stockpiling, Asians have been forced to kill 140 million chickens in an effort to prevent the spread of the disease.