Dr Reid has a little pill for us.

John Reid. The UK’s Defence Secretary.
That’s a very senior position – after all, the armed forces are under his control (yeah yeah, we all know that’s crap but for the sake of this bit of spiel..) so you’d expect him to have a grip.

Bird Flu isn’t far from these shores and he was mentioned today on the BBC:

“The difficulty if bird flu ever transfers to humans – and it hasn’t yet, so don’t let’s panic – if it does, up until the point that it does and mixes with human flu it isn’t possible to have a vaccine in advance,”

I haven’t the slightest problem with that. What he says is very very true. But then …

“The most you can do is prepare and have a type of pill you take which diminishes the symptoms after it arrives.”

WHAT ? Can’t you just picture him with a kindly smile patting us all on the head with a ‘there there I know best’ ? What he is actually doing is trying to get us away from the idea that an injection will be needed. To stop people clamouring at GP surgeries across the land as soon as they see a sparrow coughing.
Maybe if he had said “The most we can do is prepare our resources and have the correct medications at the correct time (and hopefully in the right quantities)”. I could have picked at that and he would have said essentially the same thing, but to use the words “a type of pill” ? Eh ? What type ? Will square pills be better than oval ? Will they be in that ‘easy to swallow’ shape that you just hope goes down sideways ? Can we have what the Govt gets ?
Another pick… “diminishes the symptoms“. I’m fairly sure that you can get drugs that ‘diminish symptoms’ but still allow the underlying event to kill you. I would be more reassured if Mr Reid had said that these ‘yet to be designed’ types of pills would “keep you alive” or “treat the cause” or even “knock you out for a bit but then you’ll be fine”. His choice of words does not make me feel more comfortable.

From the same link, this is amusing (to me):

Chemist retailer Boots has revealed it is to train staff in recognising the human symptoms of avian flu to assist customers with their enquiries.

“…and if you see a customer with these symptoms, send them off to Superdrug. Or Tesco. Or those little chemists who may take our trade. This is a commercial opportunity we must make the most of !”

and …. How to be beautifully, blissfully wrong about Tamiflu: just call it a bird flu vaccine

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