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Interview with John Barry (The Great Influenza) on Swine Flu (H1N1)

The most recent issue of Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science has a great interview with John Barry, historian and author of "The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague In History." The interview discusses his book, it's impact on pandemic policy planning and what the 1918 Flu experience can teach us about preparedness for future potential pandemics, such as the current H1N1 virus (aka Swine Flu). Here's a sample:

Q: One of the signs of progress between 1918 and 2009 is that today we are close to real-time surveillance. There’s a swine flu wiki on the web. We have outbreak reporting everywhere. Scientists can track genetic changes practically in real time. What difference do these capabilities make in the progress of a pandemic?

A: They don’t have any impact on the virus itself—which continues to be the most important factor in what happens. But in terms of vaccine production, it’s of enormous importance. And in terms of public health measures, it keeps you aware. Around the world, people in public health recognize that this remains a very serious threat. Whether a pandemic will erupt now, during the seasonal influenza outbreak this year, or in another couple of years is not clear. But the tracking and surveillance and genetic information will be very useful in terms of management.

Click Source above to view a PDF of the entire interview.

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