Fears over flu drugs shortageThe new flu is spreading like wildfire across the nation. An additional 258 cases were confirmed in a single day last week, and the number of confirmed cases has surged in the past two days since the number of daily cases exceeded 100 people for the first time last Wednesday.
The A(H1N1) virus may become more deadly as autumn draws near, and there is a high chance that the disease could spread faster than expected, sparking concerns of a pandemic. Thus it is time that the health authorities and the entire country came together to resolve the crisis. However, the preparations of the nation’s health authorities leave a great deal to be desired. Above all, the supply of antiviral drugs and vaccines, which are considered effective against the new virus, falls far short of demand.
The current stockpile of antiviral drugs is enough for 5.3 million, or 11 percent of the total population. This is low compared to reported stockpiles in other countries, such as Britain and France (50 percent) and the United States and Japan (20-25 percent).
We are on the verge of a crisis but the current supply of Tamiflu will be inadequate to meet the demand soon if the number of rises dramatically. If a flu pandemic presents a tremendous challenge, we will have a catastrophe on our hands because of a shortage of appropriate drugs.
The government must look beyond allowing domestic drug manufacturers to produce substitute medicines. It must provide efficient vaccines as soon as possible and spare no effort or expense importing more flu vaccines from foreign manufacturers.
Above all, people should react to the recent flu outbreaks in an objective and calm manner. Excessive anxiety won’t help anyone. People should do everything they can for personal hygiene management, such as gentle hand washing.
If you begin to show flu-like symptoms such as a sudden high temperature, you should immediately visit your local doctor or nearby medical facility. Unless such symptoms are observed, people should refrain from hoarding a personal stockpile of Tamiflu. The drug is already in short supply following fears of a possible epidemic.
We believe the government and the public will share their wisdom to respond to and recover from the pandemic.
However, new types of viruses will likely continue to appear. We should explore ways to boost our capability to produce flu vaccines and anti-virus medicines on our own to ensure that we will be able to protect our own lives.
This is the most important lesson we should have learned from this new flu outbreak, and we have no excuse if we fail to properly protect ourselves in the future.