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Chasing Terrorists VS. Chasing Swine Flu

By       Message Emily Spence     Permalink

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opednews.com Headlined to H3 8/3/09

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An associate of mine recently returned from being in China for three weeks. Describing some of her experiences, she mentioned that a team of medically trained officials with masks, gloves and assorted paraphernalia came onto her jet after it landed in Asia and individually checked each person onboard for flu symptoms.
At the same time, their examination went quickly as they had the protocol down pat with enough workers to run through the procedure in a highly efficient orderly manner. In addition, the health workers took everyone's temperature with a small round disk that was put on each person's head for approximately two seconds. (Obviously, the object's an incredibly fast thermometer, which was neither invented, nor in use in the USA. Why not?)
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In addition, all people during the flight, including the airline staff, had to record information concerning any illnesses that they might have contracted using a passed out medical form much like the type, one can assume, that is filled out prior to appointments in many doctors' offices in the USA. On it, they also had to share about their overall health, recent locations and associates for a given period of time so that possible Swine Flu exposure from others could be assessed.
In this way, the officials were able to catch, in advance, a number of people who were, as a precautionary measure, briefly quarantined and amongst whom, it turned out, some had contracted the flu while outside of China. They, also, nabbed from flights originating from the USA and other countries quite a number of people who showed flu symptoms upon the arrival of their jets in China after which health officers isolated them and, in separate quarters, their companions amongst whom the latter were released if they successfully cleared the incubation period.
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Further, the group on the flight was not released from its protectively secluded section of the customs clearance area until all of the collected forms were read by a fair sized staff authorizing individual passengers one after another to move through the more typical customs checkpoint. Meanwhile, the travelers were made as comfortable as possible while waiting with polite helpful airport personnel expertly providing for their needs rather than their simply being left as a tired bedraggled crowd to their own devices. As such, the small additional waiting period was made endurable by friendly attentive helpers.
This program in mind, one ponders about the reason that the U.S. government, with so many desperate unemployed Americans extant, does not institute a similar plan. Setting it in place as a coordinated effort by the CDC, NIH, FDA, DHS, FAA, airport security directors and/or other groups would definitely curtail the need for an extraordinarily high number of vaccine doses due to it delimiting the outbreak. So it would be valuable even if maintaining such a regimen were to reallocate some of the excessive funds intended for pharmaceutical companies making the vaccine components at a very high profit margin and for which price should have been aggressively negotiated by a Congressional oversight committee.
Instead, must the USA fall back on drastic plans as a second line of defense in the absence of diligent pre-emptive measures such as the Chinese have thoughtfully undertaken? Are inoculations and military enforcement the best techniques that the U.S. leadership can muster in response to worries erupting after the initial H1N1 outbreak?
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All considered, it might be important to note The Role of the Department of Defense During A Flu Pandemic as discussed by the authors Lawrence Kapp, Specialist in Military Manpower Policy, and Don J. Jansen,
Analyst in Defense Health Care Policy. After all, there might be need for drastic aggressive measures if prohibitive ones aren't set in place in advance. Yet, isn't "an ounce of prevention worth a pound of cure"?
Why are always more drugs and vigorous military force dished up by the USA as a panacea for much that ails? Can't some innovative alternatives be devised? Seemingly, the answer is generally "no".
So, it's no wonder that the USA is probably the most Drugged-Up Nation in the world. Likewise, it's no wonder that the Pentagon sends the armed service every which way to fan out across the globe. Unfortunately, palliative placation after a mess is created mixed with brute force is typically American.
Meanwhile, my friend stayed in a government building for part of her time in China. In relation, everyone in the abode had his temperature taken first thing in the morning before disembarkation from the dwelling and as a last action at night before bedtime. By such a procedure, plans to limit disease in government facilities were put in place and one can assume that similar practices were being carried out at military and prison sites, along with other tracking mechanisms, including perhaps ones similar to those that were carried out at the airport.
Are comparable deterrent actions being implemented at U.S. military bases around the world and on U.S. soil? Are they in place at American prisons, detention centers and other government run centers?
Apparently, no such procedures are adequately in place. Evidence for this neglect is ample such as the fact that, according to the account in "Swine flu hits Air Force operations in north Fla", "Swine flu has hit the Air Force's special operations command in northwest Florida. As many as 59 airmen at Hurlburt Field are suspected of having the virus, while another four have tested positive. First Special Operations Wing spokeswoman Amy Oliver said Wednesday they won't be testing the probable cases."
At the same time, no one can claim that population size, nor land mass extent, can serve as an impediment to preventative Swine Flu examinations being successfully conducted. If they can be undertaken in a vast sprawling land like China with over a billion people, they, certainly, can be achieved in other countries if there is sufficient willpower.
Evidently, though, it's lacking in America as I, in contrast to my friend's experience in China, did not see any measures related to flu control while recently stuck for around two hours in the international terminal at Logan Airport near Boston while waiting for a relative's delayed flight from Orly Airport near Paris. No, there were no signs of any precautions being undertaken even on a modest scale.
On account, I tried to stay away from the milling-about mob as much as possible. Simultaneously, I witnessed arriving group after group pour through the customs doorways from assorted locations abroad after which they, with some in their bunch coughing and sneezing, pressed through the densely packed pick-up crowd.
In short, there were no checks as far as I could discern for incoming passengers and my relative confirmed that, indeed, this was seemingly the case. How amazing and slack!
Similarly, my companion back from China was equally astonished about the lax US standards relative to arriving flu cases. So one winds up questioning the stupidity of, pathetic obsession with and tremendous amount of money thrown at catching would-be terrorists in the U.S. and overseas while everything is so negligent and seemingly disorganized from a medical angle. Indeed, perhaps the wrong monsters and bogeymen are being overzealously chased.
After all, look who's being hounded. For example, there's the GRANDMOTHER AND RETIRED NURSE LABELED A TERRORIST , who's the Clerk of a Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) Meeting. Likewise, let's not forget that there's always Another five-year-old on the no-fly list: meet Sam Adams.
This in mind, there's always an ongoing requirement for whistle blowers and watch dog groups like ACLU since the ACLU Releases Comprehensive Report On Patriot Act Abuses. At the same time, the wrongs are often so severe that even E-Mail Surveillance Renews Concerns in Congress - NYTimes.com.
All the same, some government officials, perhaps fanatical on certain fronts, are woefully neglectful in tracking the Swine Flu and protecting citizens from its spread. In disgust and dismay, one ponders about their priorities or, in the least, the reason that flu carriers aren't traced as energetically as are little boys like Sam Adams, pacifistic religious leaders, other peaceniks and, half a world away, goat herders, who resent their nations being invaded and bombed to rubble with DU tipped projectiles by foreigners after which they embrace "the enemy" as a consequence.
Then again, why would some of these legislators wish to proactively prevent the spread of the Swine Flu? After all, 'A Whole Industry Is Waiting For A Pandemic'. As epidemiologist Tom Jefferson states in his Spiegel international edition interview:
"It's true that influenza viruses are unpredictable, so it does call for a certain degree of caution. But one of the extraordinary features of this influenza -- and the whole influenza saga -- is that there are some people who make predictions year after year, and they get worse and worse. None of them so far have come about, and these people are still there making these predictions. For example, what happened with the bird flu, which was supposed to kill us all? Nothing. But that doesn't stop these people from always making their predictions. Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur."
"The WHO and public health officials, virologists and the pharmaceutical companies. They've built this machine around the impending pandemic. And there's a lot of money involved, and influence, and careers, and entire institutions! And all it took was one of these influenza viruses to mutate to start the machine grinding."
"... With rhinoviruses, RSV and the majority of the other viruses, it's hard to make a lot of money or a career out of it. Against influenza, though, there are vaccines, and there are drugs you can sell. And that's where the big money from the pharmaceuticals industry is. It makes sure that research on influenza is published in the good journals. And that's why you have more attention being paid there, and the entire research field becomes interesting for ambitious scientists."
In a similar vein, Many in Congress Hold Stakes in Health Industry - NYTimes.com. As Greg Gordon and Andrew Donohue point out in "Members of Congress Face Conflict of Interest When it Comes to Drug Companies ", which contains an eye opening list of related articles:
"These senators, House members and their families own tens of millions of dollars in stock in drug manufacturers, whose profits could rise or fall depending on what Congress does about the soaring prices of medicine and the push for Medicare drug benefits."
So, along with voting in favor of bailout funds to go to institutions in which they have holdings, why shouldn't members of Congress be in favor of taxpayers' money also going towards a gargantuan Swine Flu immunization program when it is, obviously, so personally lucrative? Would they care that "Conflict of interest taints vaccine approval process, charges US report ", posted at National Center for Biotechnology Information web site, exists? Are they concerned that lists like "Ten Things You're Not Supposed to Know about the Swine Flu Vaccine " are formulated as warnings for an undiscerning public whose fright over the illness has been intentionally whipped up to an irrational frenzy by sensational MSM coverage? Of course, these reports make no difference since greed and alarm trumps all!
In the meantime, you won't find me at another American airport any time soon. At the same time, anyone expecting me to join the obedient conformist throng to be a new vaccination guinea pig had better think twice about holding his breath while waiting for me to get in line.
Put another way: "Government health agencies colluded with Big Pharma to hide the risks" , according to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. In view of that, I'm, frankly, not willing to gamble with my health at either a U.S. flight terminal or in experimental trials for hastily developed drugs.

 

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Emily Spence is a progressive living in MA. She has spent many years involved with assorted types of human rights, environmental and social service efforts.

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