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Wednesday 9 April 2003

SARS - no time for real politik [brit]

I'm sure you've all heard of SARS; Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - the highly infectious virus that is currently causing great concern for the World Health Organisation (WHO). If you haven't, it's a respiratory condition which whilst 'only' maintaining a 4% mortality rate, has infected thousands of people and spread round the globe in a remarkably short time.
Ground zero is China; in Guangdong province which is in the south of the country. It's no surprise that events like this originate from the region - social and economic pressures common to many Far Eastern countries provide better than excellent proving grounds for communicable disease and enteric infection.
The problem of course is that political pressures in place within China are preventing the WHO task force (sent to investigate the outbreak recently) from doing their job; if there is one thing that should logically cross all political and social boundaries, it's a common interest in staying healthy. Not so for the Chinese authorities, who are refusing to play ball.
It's a dangerous game. Little is known about SARS as yet; and without complete access to patient records, medical facilities and research (however hit and miss in nature), the WHO team can't realistically expect to achieve their goal - identify, categorise and (hopefully) eliminate the virus responsible.=20
Personally speaking, the Chinese attitude is vastly more concerning than the French attitude over the Iraq conflict currently underway - by refusing to co-operate, they could feasibly be putting every being on this planet at risk from a virus that even the medical specialists admit, is 'worrying'.=20
Believe me when I say - having worked in CDSC (Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre) - 'worrying' is of some concern; these are after all senior medical folk, who's use of language is as controlled as their propensity for wearing sensible shoes.
This is one situation where National Pride is going to cost China dearly.


  1. Incidentally, I have no idea why this blog is chock full of '=" signs. Personally, I'm taking the 5th.

  2. Bleh, I removed most of them by hand. Your mail client is basically sending a version of quoted printable and I don't do any decoding in Rebot. I happen to have a whole bunch of functions lying around which do things like that now, so I'll do up Rebot at some point to be a little happier about those sorts of emails.

  3. Well, quite a few people seem to think the human population was getting too big anyway - perhaps a cull of the least co-operative members would be a good thing :-)

  4. The trouble with that notion is that this is a virus. So what happens if China gets massively infected is that it increases the chances of mutations which increase the infectiousness and lethality of it. Just like all the flus we get started in Asia, the next big virus that kills a good percentage of the population will come from there as well.
    Of course they'd be a chance to stop the flights, confine the greatest outbreaks and so on... except that China wont tell anyone until it's too late.