Posted Monday, 8 June 2009 at 16:24
Professor Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College London, is complaining that testing for swine flu is non-existent as Hospitals are failing to test patients admitted with respiratory problems.
Well, I never. Remember when I blogged this?
It was one of those blogs which left me thinking that maybe I should give up blogging as I found myself being attacked by the MP described by some in the media as Dr Death, the Lib Dem MP Evan Harris and Secretary of State for Health Alan Johnson, on the floor of the Chamber.
I think he described me as irresponsible for saying it was nonsense to close down schools for a virus which presented as its worst symptom, a sore throat. I made the case that maybe it would be a far better idea for us all to catch it in its milder form and build up the anti-bodies, before the virus mutated and became something much stronger by the winter.
I know a number of people who have all had a 'summer cold' over the last few weeks. All had sore joints, mild temperature, sore throat and headache. All better after a few days and not one tested for Swine flu.
Professor Ferguson is a product of the health and safety culture which has cultivated under New Labour. He probably condoned the advice to mail every household, at an unimaginable cost, with a leaflet telling people how to handle a sneeze.
Maybe he wants every hospital to test every patient because some people, who recommended the spending of millions of pounds on masks and leaflets, may be feeling slightly vulnerable now.
We experience 3-4000 deaths (WHO statistic) per non-epidemic year in this country from bog standard school yard flu.
It seems to me as though Swine Flu has been a doddle in comparison.
I will stick to my original point - don't test, don't spend a fortune preventing people catching this. In the long run, building up immunities now may save lives later.
Man in a Shed said:
Responded: Monday, 8 June 2009
I assume the testing strategy has now switched to monitoring the outbreak and characterising the virus, rather than being part of the containment strategy ( ie testing all cases ) ?
My guess is what you suggest is in effect government policy, but that they don't have the political strength to say it.
The key thing here is to make sure the lessons have been learnt and weak points in our response identified.
Testing capability and technique seem to have been a early problem as was the confusion over using quarantine for those arriving from Mexico.
The government suddenly needing to order massive stock piles of masks doesn't build confidence in their preparedness either, or does the confusion over drug distribution using an entirely novel ( and therefore untested ) approach that GPs and Pharmacists seemed confused by.
PS The US CDC said the virus is infectious from one day before symptoms - how does that square with government advice on containment ?
You need to push them to outline lessons learnt. Maybe we will be lucky this time, but its a great opportunity to improve our responses.
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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