Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: There is History

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  • Mrs Skin,

    It's not a complete media beat up but there's still a noticeable element of that. Compare stuff.co.nz with newscientist.com & the difference is marked.

    the warmest room in the h… • Since Feb 2009 • 168 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Not right now, for instance.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    I believe I have found the ultimate swine flu site.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    Giovanni:

    The WHO for one is not in the business of spreading panic in order to help newspaper sales.

    Probably not, but the tin-foil hatters out there will probably suspect it's a false flag concocted by Viadoxin.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • Hayden Wilson,

    I dunno if that was Sebastien Chabal, but if anyone's playing for Team Evil it's him.

    Clearly he is. My nine year old, everytime he sees a picture of Chabal chants (in perfect pitch)... Captain Caaaveman!

    And I swear he has never seen the damn show. Clearly it is yet another example of franco-belezebub/jedi mind tricks...

    ...and yes.. I thought the teen angels were hot...

    *gets coat*

    Since Nov 2006 • 27 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    True, and I think that Poneke's take on this is ridiculous to the point of being dangerous.

    I really value Poneke's presenece, but his take on scepticism is often all attitude and not much reason.

    Like, don't get him started on Y2K.

    Having actually been an IT reporter through the period in which legacy two-digit date fields were identified as a problem, then largely rectified, I'm quite clear on the fact that there were potentially dangerous problems, especially with the heavily-accreted, bespoke software used to manage utilities.

    We'd already seen date-related failures manifest in New Zealand ATM machines after midnight Dec 31 in previous years. It was actually quite rational to take out a little extra cash on the last day of 1999 (I did), because if the system was going to fail, it was going to fail first in New Zealand.

    As it happened, people had done a pretty good job of fixing code over the past five years, and very little happened on the night. That's not the same thing as there never having been a risk.

    The link to the current virus situation is that there's a whole lot of just-don't-know about it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • WH,

    There is officially nothing that irritates me more than the idea that this is a media beat up. It isn't. The WHO for one is not in the business of spreading panic in order to help newspaper sales.

    It's often said that it's only a matter of time before a global pandemic strikes, and I don't doubt that the WHO was right to follow its global pandemic procedures. We can nevertheless separate the threat from the ways in which media coverage of that threat is disproportionate, inadequate and irritating.

    It would seem that there is a low probability that this particular virus will wreak devastation of the kind called to mind by the term 'global pandemic'. As CNN's Sanjay Gupta has noted, 36,000 Americans die of flu related illnesses every year. The Times has noted that the media driven overreaction to the last US swine flu outbreak ended up killing more people than it saved.

    It's easy enough to locate this within well known critiques, but people aren't well served by (or particularly want) media coverage that is systematically exaggerated.

    Since Nov 2006 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    From Macdoctor's roundup of facts and fallacies:

    The World Health Organisation has increased their alert level to 5, indicating that a pandemic is now almost inevitable. Bear in mind, however, that we essentially get a pandemic of influenza every year. Although this virus is likely to be significantly more dangerous than the standard influenza virus, it is also likely to turn out more like the Hong Kong flu pandemic rather than the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. There will be some tragedies and some disruption to life - but the world will not come to an end.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Blake Monkley,

    Highly decorated science journalist Laurie Garrett joins the 7.30 Report from New York to discuss the emergence of swine flu and its potential repercussions.

    That flu had only a less than 2 per cent case fatality rate, which is to say more than 98 per cent of the people who got sick with flu in 1918 survived. So you look at that figure, 100 million, and you realise, wow, that was just... That was just the tip of the iceberg of who got infected.

    That's why this denominator issue in Mexico is so terribly, terribly important. We need to understand, are we looking at a case fatality race in Mexico of 0.001 per cent of all the people infected, or are we looking at a case fatality rate of 1 per cent or 2 per cent of all the people infected?

    Auckland • Since Jul 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    I really value Poneke's presenece, but his take on scepticism is often all attitude and not much reason.

    He's very enlightened on some topics, unreconstructed on others. the only consistent thing about him is his inconsistency..

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 830 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Swine flu silver lining: Nick Smith is currently in isolation.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    "Nick Smith is currently in isolation."

    I'm yet to be convinced that has anything to do with the flu.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    More like surgical removal of foot from mouth

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    More like surgical removal of foot from mouth

    No, that would be Joe Biden:

    The day after President Barack Obama urged the flu-worried masses to stay calm, Vice President Joe Biden went off the rails, saying he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways.

    Meh. I've been wondering how long it'll take the 'I have a sniffle' panic crowd to die down at the doctor's. I need to take my daughter for her gardasil vaccinations.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    No, that would be Joe Biden:

    Ouch

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    he has urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways.

    The Brits reckon you riding the elevator will kill you. (The page is in Italian but the video is in English).

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Meh. I've been wondering how long it'll take the 'I have a sniffle' panic crowd to die down at the doctor's.

    Goodness Emma, that's a bit callous. But I suppose if they're going to die, then down at the doctor's is as a good a place as any.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But I suppose if they're going to die, then down at the doctor's is as a good a place as any.

    Probably not very good advertising for the doctor though. I mean, you think at least they'd call an ambulance so they can die in hospital.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    Meh. I've been wondering how long it'll take the 'I have a sniffle' panic crowd to die down at the doctor's.

    I tried phoning the emergency number, but all I got was crackling on the line.

    But it's alright, because I've heard that Lemsip will shortly be available in apple sauce flavour.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Goodness Emma, that's a bit callous. But I suppose if they're going to die, then down at the doctor's is as a good a place as any.

    Just so long as they don't take any medical professionals with them. And actually, if all the fatalities could be programmers with well-paid cushy interesting jobs, that would also be choice.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Spoken like a technical communicator. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Time for some Pandemic Panache:

    Hats, scarves and gloves come back into fashion.
    On warmer days these could be white silk, add top hat and tails to suit, take too martines and call me in the morning.

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report Reply

  • dyan campbell,

    That flu had only a less than 2 per cent case fatality rate, which is to say more than 98 per cent of the people who got sick with flu in 1918 survived. So you look at that figure, 100 million, and you realise, wow, that was just... That was just the tip of the iceberg of who got infected.

    Laurie Garrett is the sort of journalist you want reporting on an event like this.
    Laurie Garrett

    Her point that the 100 million people who died from the 1918 epidemic represents only a tiny fraction of those who became ill is exactly why the WHO is on such high alert. With most flu epidemics there have been previous epidemics of that specific virus, or an ancestor of that virus that is close enough that the human population has some kind of herd immunity.

    Herd immunity is when a sufficient chunk of the population has immunity to the virus, letting it fizzle out in localised outbreaks. So if your kid comes home from daycare, where all the kids have a flu, there is a good chance one or both of the parents will have immunity to that virus, and not take it to work.

    In the case of an entirely new virus like H1N1
    not one single person has immunity to this, making the herd immunity zero. So in a typical season where maybe 1 in 6 people get the flu, this will be quite different, and the infection rate will probably more closely resemble the 1918 epidemic. Only a few who get it will die, but many, many more people will get if because the rate of infection will be so much higher.

    Also, as this new strain is just that - new - there are several variables to the emerging epidemic that are not known.

    Incubation period: they think it is between 2 and 5 days. Possibly 7 days. Maybe longer. This is crucial to stopping the spread, and they don't know this yet.

    One of the things that does not seem to be addressed by the ARPH here is the fact that all someone coming down with the flu is really very contagious about 18 to 24 hours before they show any symptoms at all.

    Another thing yet to be determined is how long does someone stay infectious? Again, with regular flu viruses the adult patient is no longer infectious once they stop manifesting symptoms, but it's quite different in children. Children can remain infectious for many days (up to 25) past the disappearance of all symptoms.

    With all flu epidemics there are usually quite marked seasonal fluctuations. So the flu season is worse during winter months, and then it tends to ebb away during spring and summer, then return the following fall/winter. Again, the WHO does not yet know whether this first epidemic is a milder strain of the one seen in Mexico, and if the expected re-emergence the next time around will be either a milder or more virulent strain.

    But then I'm not a doctor and I don't have a whole degree in anything, I'm sure the experts have this covered. Mostly...

    Congrats to the genius who told people with flu symptoms to go to the pharmacy in person and prove they are sick. Sheer genius. I told a virologist friend of mine back in Canada about this and she thought I was joking, so I sent her the NZ doctor article.

    auckland • Since Dec 2006 • 595 posts Report Reply

  • Felix Marwick,

    You may (or may not as the case may be) be reassured to learn Nick Smith only has Influenza A and has tested negative for Swine Flu.

    It was highly unlikely he had it anyway as He'd been travelling Asia, not Mexico or North America.

    Still it did have a few of us in the Gallery wondering what might have occurred had the results been different. Given he was at cabinet on Monday would it have meant the entire executive would have had to be quarantined? ;-)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 200 posts Report Reply

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