[LETTERS to the editor]Don’t bury heads over fluThe recent bird flu, known as H5N1, has created great controversy around the world, but now seems to be rather ignored by most people. The H5N1 avian flu emerged as a great threat and many experts have said it will be the next big pandemic. Moreover, as scientists discovered the recent bird flu is similar to the influenza that took millions of lives in 1918, it has built up great tension in the world’s scientific and medical communities. However, as the visual progress of the avian flu has been scarce, people are feeling more at ease with the possible new pandemic.
Nevertheless, scientists are saying it’s not time to relax yet. Many scientists say the bird flu is only in its beginnings and they expect it will someday disastrously sweep around the world. While it is true we still have a grace period before the flu becomes extremely dangerous, the big problem is that we still have no effective method for preventing it.
Why scientists are so anxious about the flu is because it hasn’t yet adapted fully to existing in the human body. Once the flu evolves and is able to adjust to the human body, it will spread quickly and become a global catastrophe. At present, the virus is being spread around the world by birds. From Asia, it spread quickly into Europe and it has now been found as far west as England.
Some people insist that vaccines will help to prevent the flu from spreading. Experimental results have shown that Roche and Gilead’s Tamiflu and GlaxoSmithKline’s Relenza are the only two drugs that can treat the flu. However, unfortunately, they are extremely scarce in supply. Moreover, experts say we have to take them on a daily basis for days or weeks to be safe from the flu, which makes them even scarcer.
The WHO (World Health Organization) and other health and scientific groups are alert these days. The issue is whether we, ordinary people, are becoming more and more indifferent to the H5N1. Many people are assuming it is a trivial matter because of its slow growth. However, we have to know there is a possibility for a disaster like that of 1918 to start again.
by Woo Jae-hee