Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Economics of a Flu Pandemic, Worst Case Scenarios

I am not an expert in the spread of flus. Thus, I have little to add from the technical side of the current flu near panic situation. But, I am a thinker, so here goes.

From discussions I have had in the past with experts in the fields of bio-terror/influenza etc, I am aware that the most serious flus are the ones that kill the healthy and leave the weak standing. They kill a lot when they are in circulation. The working theory as to why this occurs is that there is something in the flu that causes the immune system to work overtime and thus fills the lungs with liquid that, literally, drowns the person. It s an ugly death. A person with a weaker immune system will have a better chance of surviving, because he won't produce so much disease fighting liquid. Thus, if there ever was a time trundown your immune system, stay up late and get little sleep, now is it. Likewise, if you actually, catch the flu, my guess is that it wouldn't be a good time to catch a lot of sleep. Only, the weak will survive!! It's time to get yourself weak and lose the vitamins until we understand what is going on. IF what we are dealing with is the flu that kills the healthy.

Further, experts and the World Health Organization seem to indicate that Tamiflu may work against the disease. As I wrote before, find yourself a friendly physician and get yourself some, NOW. If this gets serious, Tamiflu will disappear from pharmacy shelves almost instantly. Tamiflu, btw, only works if you start taking it within the first 24 hours or so of your getting symptoms.

As for the economy, think total disaster. For me that means no business for hotels, airlines, restaurants, malls etc. But I guess things could get even worse. For those thoughts, I point you toward Ian Welsh. Welsh should obviously write disaster novels, since he can think way beyond me as far as worst case scenarios. I recommend you read his column at Huffington Post only so that if the worst does hit, you will have some frame of reference as to what could happen--and, thus, get you thinking along those lines of thought way ahead of the pack.

Being ahead of the pack will be important under such conditions and thus these words by Welsh really jumped out at me:

If you think that such a pandemic is likely to occur then the steps you should take are much the same you would take for any natural disaster. Because the banking system will likely be shut down during the crisis (and bank machines will likely not be restocked even if they do not go down due to loss of system personnel) you should have a stock of money at home to allow you to buy whatever you need which is available. If you can arrange to have independent power generation, you should do so. You should have a good supply of canned food and water. Make your estimate of how much you need and double or triple it. Others will not have planned and you do not want to find yourself not being able to help friends, family and neighbors. In addition you will want to have tradeables available for the black market. Money will be a poor second to having goods people want. In this regard stocking up on some medical items such as surgical masks and OTC medicines will be especially wise. I'm not encouraging profiteering, but you will need something you can trade which people want.

I did say that Welsh was way advanced beyond me as a disaster thinker. Let's hope it doesn't get anywhere near this bad.

I believe a key bellwether, as to how bad things will get, will be the students at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, New York that are ill. They clearly have caught the flu, if a number of them die, we are in trouble. If they all survive, then possibly Americans will react to the flu differently than Mexicans have (Possibly because our immune system contains some type of anti-flu fighter from a previous bout of flu that Mexicans do not have in their system). According to the CDC, the reported cases in California and Texas were only mild cases, with no deaths.

But, the St. Francis students will be the best gauge.


  1. Most doctors will not prescribe TamiFlu until you go in and see them. The regular flu hit hard (in Feb) at the college my son attends and he got it. The doctor prescribed Tamiflu -- but all the pharmacies in town (he called them all ! ) were out of it for two more days. At this time of year with the 'regular' flu season winding down -- I doubt pharmacies are stocking up (except the smart ones / independents).

  2. No need to run down your immune system. The latest research on vitamin D indicates that it modulates the immune system response, calming the cytokine storm. See Bill Sardi's pieces on vitamin D on or visit

  3. i cant get my dr or my kids pedi to give me any!if i dont have any on hand and places are out for a cpl days how am i suppose to get it in time to take it or my kids within the time frame!this is ridiculous!ughh im annoyed