Avian Flu Misinformation
Be a better news consumer. A chicken getting the sniffles is not the end of the world.
It should be clear to anyone who actually read Lowy's publication that this is a financial exploration. The "ultra-risk" level of 142 million deaths was spun out of thin air as part of an exercise in predicting economic harm. This paper does not predict 142M deaths, it only uses 142M deaths as a data point to make other predictions. In fact, this paper has nothing to do with forecasting deaths from a H5N1outbreak. All it does is forecast economic harm based upon three ancient history scenarios and a completely made-up "ultra" death number. Big difference, and perfectly obvious to anyone who actually read the report before writing about it.
99% of the "bird flu" media stories are exactly that: Some bird has tested positive for the flu. This is not a new phenomenon. The only thing new is the reach of testing and the quantity of misinformed reporting. As of yesterday, 172 people have contracted lab-confirmed H5N1 influenza, 92 of whom died. That's from 2003 to the present.
- Mutate into something a human could catch
- Be lucky enough to invade a human via unsafe handling methods
- Mutate again into something that is very contagious to humans
- Escape an increasingly sophisticated global influenza monitoring network long enough to build a head of steam
- Be resistant to the array of treatments we have to treat influenza and its symptoms
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