Over this past week we have seen a flurry of new H5N1 reported infections and deaths in Indonesia.
Has H5N1 changed and that is why we are seeing more cases and more deaths? Could it be that the situation hasn't changed, but Indonesia is being more forthcoming about the severity of their problem? Or, could it possibly be that Indonesia is attempting to scare the world into buckling under to their vaccine blackmail campaign?
I don't have the answers to the questions, and I don't believe that anyone outside of Indonesia does.
As a self described Information Junkie it drives me crazy to have questions that I have no means of answering. Questions that I feel are vitally important, not only to me, but to the world at large. And, since I am also an Internet Junkie, I am spoiled by having the world's public knowledge pretty much at my beck and call. I am just not used to having a quest for information stymied and frustrated.
It would not be so bad if I thought there was someone, or a group of someones, who had a factual understanding of the situation, but since I don't believe there is anyone that fits that description, and that goes for the government of Indonesia itself, I am suffering a junkie's unrequited hunger.
A week ago I was not at all concerned about Indonesia. I was irritated and angered over their viral sample blackmail shenanigans, but I was not overly concerned about what H5N1 was doing on the human infection front. It wasn't that I didn't appreciate the danger that the Indonesian sub-strain could suddenly obtain the ability to readily transmit from one person to another, but H5N1 seemed to have reached a long held level of stability even with the gross mismanagement by the government.
Indonesia is demanding free Pandemic Influenza vaccines from the pharmaceutical industry that would use the virus samples coming out of their country. Viral samples that Indonesia says it owns because they happen to exist within the confines of that country's boarders.
Indonesia says that the pharmaceutical industry must meet their demands because the world needs the their viral samples. The world needs the Indonesian samples because the sub-strain is such an immanent and deadly threat to the entire world.
Yes, it quite possibly is an immanent and deadly threat to the world, but almost exclusively because Indonesia has done such an abysmal job of controlling the outbreaks. No, that is an incorrect statement. They haven't done an abysmal job at controlling H5N1, that would connote that they have actually attempted control measures. They have not, not with any sincerity anyway, and certainly not with any effectiveness.
There is a model used when one nation threatens the world, or another nation's security, nay, very existence as a nation.
Indonesia's gross mismanagement of their virus threatens the entire world. It's time the world's more responsible governments, governments that actually deserve to be called governments, put real, and substantial, pressure on Indonesia to release those viral samples. It's not the world that owes Indonesia, it's Indonesia that owes the rest of the world for putting us at the edge of the abyss.
How close to the abyss are we standing? Have we already fallen in and just don't know it yet? No one knows. The last announced agreement I saw was that Indonesia has agreed to forward samples for analysis only within two months. Two months. Two months with no answers.
President Sisilo Yudhoyono should probably be comforted that I am not sitting behind President George W. Bush's desk. It's a very dangerous thing to stand between a junkie and the item of their addiction.
SZ (still as vaccineless as the average Indonesian, and as ill-informed as President Yudhoyono)