On today’s show we’re talking about pandemics and medical early warning. I listened to a recent interview with Dr. Jonathan Quick from Harvard Medical School. He’s also the chair of the Global Health Council, and the author of The End of Epidemics: The Looming Threat to Humanity and How To Stop It.
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Last fall at Prepper Camp, I remember someone telling me that north Georgia is the poultry capital of the world. And whenever avian influenza might show up, the poultry farm operators go through these great lengths to ensure that a sickness like that doesn’t spread to other birds. In March of last year, a farm in Tennessee killed over 73,000 chickens to prevent avian flu from entering the food supply. Last year was the fourth consecutive year that the avian flu showed up in the United States, and so it absolutely does represent a threat, and potentially to the food supply.
In 2016, South Korean farmers killed some 22 million chickens to avoid a greater outbreak of the avian flu. Just incredible. So, my question is, what might that do to the food supply in the United States if something like that were to happen. Maybe we can get a guest on to talk about that.
Dr. Quick makes a lot of points, here are the last two…
Early warning is a big part of stemming pandemics. I read an article in the past couple years about how the CDC mines social media like Twitter and Facebook to see when people are complaining symptoms. The CDC might identify some early warning of a flu outbreak that way.
And then the other point is about resilience. I tried to go back and find the clip but I couldn’t find it trying to quickly scan through. But Dr. Quick says there are three parts to resilience. And resilience refers to the ability to bounce back from a pandemic. And as an aside, pandemics are like cyber attacks in that we can’t prevent them, we can’t guess or predict when they’re going to happen, so the best thing we can do is to be ready for them and ensure that we have the infrastructure to bounce back, and be resilient.
The two parts of resilience that I remember are 1. Engineering. Having the infrastructure in place to deal with pandemics. 2. Psychology, the ability to deal with public perception and fear during a pandemic. I’ll go back and find that particular part because it was notable.