Monday, March 06, 2006

WHO shows some muscle

The WHO opened their three-day Geneva meeting of wise folk to address the spread of an "aggressive" chicken virus by showing some muscle. Um well sort of. I mean there was no sumo wrestlers but the squeaks and well meaning tough words did sort of make them look tough... sort of.

WHO rolled out their top influenza expert and H5N1 terminator, Margaret Chan. It was not exactly Jackie Chan but Margaret was the best WHO could come up with at short notice. Margaret opened the debate with the startling statement that "the first thing would be to try to stamp it out before it really took hold." Yes Margaret good plan um bit late but a good plan. I mean in 2004 when H5N1 was stuck in a Vietnam backwater it would have been a jolly good plan. H5N1 has sort of branched out a bit, but it is good to hear that despite invading a couple of dozen countries around the world that H5N1 is still considered as not having taken "hold".

After plan A, Margaret even had a plan B. Plan B was to "curtail" the spread of H5N1. Um Margaret do you also have a plan C?

Margaret said that with such an "unpredictable virus like the influenza virus" that everyone must be prepared to see some "surprises". Observers have remarked that experts coming out of WHO are always identifiable with the constant look of surprise etched on their faces, rather like the type you get when hit in the face with a rubber chicken.

Our resident H5N1 terminator, Margaret, was now warming up, and said that collective actions was required and that WHO was not without its defences. It was unclear if Margaret was in fact when referring to defence was thinking about the hulking military trained security who guarded the WHO building. Collective actions can mean many things to a Goverment expert, and can range from a nice get together for a collective chat about chicken viruses over a cup of coffee in Geneva, to bold actions like collective statements that most Governments ignore anyway.

Margaret was not without her secret weapons. Quarantine and the firm around the corner from the WHO building, Roche, with its wonder drug, Tamiflu, was considered the frontline WHO weaponary of choice that would kick H5N1 ass... well tickle it anyway.

Margaret then amazed with some magical H5N1 figures that any self respecting H5N1 expert must be capable of to be taken seriously. Margaret was awarded a score of 10 out of 10 by an appreciative audience of fellow experts for observation and orginality when Margaret said that "events in recent weeks justify our concern."

Margaret sort of let the WHO tough stance down a bit with a rather unpositive set of statements, along the lines that H5N1 was slowly mutating to become a human killer, in which humans with no immunity would die by the million, collapsing entire nation economies, and generally being really rotten to human beings.

Margaret finished on a roll stating that even if the pandemic could not be stopped then at least quarantine could buy countries enough time. Observers were not sure to what use the extra time would be used, but another Geneva based positive thinking exercise over coffee may well be on the cards.

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