Saturday, May 12, 2007

Report Reveals US Defence Department Predicts American Pandemic Toll Of 100 Million Sick, 3 Million Dead

US Lines Up National Guard To Enforce Quarantines During Pandemic

The US Defence Department has released a report stating that in the event of a "nationwide flu pandemic", both civilian and military medical and health facilities are likely to be overwhelmed with the sick and dying, with cities and towns shattered by breakdowns in public order. Presumably, that would include millions of panicked people trying to get their hands on non-existent vaccines and miracle cures.

The DD is now proposing that the National Guard be used not only to keep order at hospitals and medical facilities, but to provide medical aid and to enforce quarantines.

Once the National Guard gets back from Iraq, of course.

This Fox News report, drawing from the Defence Department primer, states that up to 35 percent of the US population could fall ill during a flu pandemic, with a death toll reaching some three million people.

Considering that each wave of a bird flu pandemic is expected to last between eight to twelve weeks, with at-home quarantines expected to be imposed for those caring for sick or dying relatives, and the closures of everything from schools to malls to public squares, transport lines and cinemas, the Defence Department has seen good cause to prepare serious plans for how it will cope if up to 100 million Americans were to fall ill, or had to be forced into quarantine.

It's an incomprehensible logistical problem, and one that clearly would be impossible to realistically roll out in any major way if the H5N1 virus was active in human populations across the United States.

Hard quarantine would be essential in stopping the virus spreading, necessitating closures of airports, train lines, bus lines and roads in and out of infected towns or cities.

But if such huge numbers of Americans were to fall ill, then many of the Guard and military would also likely to be out of action, either sick themselves, or called away to care for family members.

Curiously, the report cited by Fox News is from August 2006. It's called 'The Department of Defence Implementation Plan for Pandemic Influenza'. The report appears to have been resurrected due to the exposure of depleted National Guard personnel and equipment shortages during rescue and recovery operations after the Kansas F-5 tornado that all but wiped the farming town of Greensburg off the map :

According to the report, in the event of a pandemic or a bioterror attack, the Defense Department may be called by the president to assist civilian authorities in minimizing the spread of disease by placing restrictions on interstate transportation. Jurisdictions, the report adds, would be overwhelmed and unable to provide essential commodities and services. In addition, the nation will not be able to rely on airlines.

The report comes on the heels of complaints that the Guardsmen have been spread too thin to respond to a tornado that wiped out 95 percent of Greensburg, Kan. on Sunday. Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and some of her allies in Washington, D.C., have complained that the Guard's emergency response to help displaced residents following the F-5 tornado that killed at least 11 was slowed because equipment is deployed in Iraq.

Speaking after a visit by President Bush to Greensburg on Wednesday, Sebelius said the absence of equipment is an ongoing issue for every governor in the country, and she conveyed her concerns to the president.

While the issue of whether or not various states have enough National Guard resources to deal with natural disasters, or flu pandemics, is important, this is the first time I've seen this Defence Department 'Implementation Plan For Pandemic Influenza' report mentioned anywhere in the mainstream media.

That the US Defence Department is looking at scenarios where they are expecting to have to cope with up to 3 million dead and possibly 100 million falling sick, and needing to be quarantined during the entire expected three month stretch of an influenza pandemic outbreak, is simply mind-blowing. And their numbers are a massive increase on figures from last year.

The last mainstream American news story that comes immediately to mind mentioned a possible American death toll from a pandemic was 200,000.

The US Defence Department, however, is working off formulas that produce fatality stats of 3 million dead.

So who's right? The World Health Organisation or the US Department of Defence?

Pray that we don't have to find out.

NOTE : President Bush now has the legal authority to over-ride the states and take control of all National Guard units during the event of a major terrorist attack, natural disaster or influenza pandemic.


Anonymous said...

Either they are going off the 1914 mortality rate of 3% or there must have been 6000 people infected with the H5N1 in this era to produce the 170 deaths to date, instead of the reported approximate 300 persons ill. A mortality rate closer to 60%!

By Darryl Mason said...

Actually Anon, the worldwide average mortality rate sits at about 68%. Indonesia is still vague about the total number of infections and deaths attributable to H5N1. Through no fault of the Indonesian government. Look at a map of Indonesia, and then try to imagine co-ordinating a 'national' database across hundreds of inhabited islands, some without any serious communication systems, let alone WHO-acknowledged medical staff.