12/30: Could ‘Contagion’ come true?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Released earlier this year, the movie “Contagion” illustrates pandemic panic. Some say cuts in public health programs could make events in the film a reality.

Compounding matters, scientists recently created a highly transmissible form of the deadly virus that causes bird flu. Below, experts consider the ramifications:  Dr. Ruth Berkelman, director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research at Emory University; and Art Kellermann and Melinda Moore, who work at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit policy and decision-making institution.

Got your flu shot yet?

10 comments Add your comment

playground logic

January 2nd, 2012
2:44 am

Don’t we need to increase taxpayer funding by 10,000% for more dietitians to prevent people that constantly get too close in contact with food from getting fatally fat?
Improving the odds against the obesity epidemic in this country by, say, 2%… yep, worth trillions in cost benefits!

The cost benefit of using common sense… Priceless.


January 1st, 2012
8:50 am

Vast majority of pandemics originate in animals. Mainly in livestock, which is not wildlife but is fully under man ’s control. By tolerating continuing widespread circulation of H5N1 in poultry, mankind is aiding the “weaponization” of bird flu. There are billions of interactions between infected poultry and mammals.

There is practically no veterinary capacity in developing countries. But it is far cheaper to control the disease in animals before it jumps to humans. It’s not being done. The pandemic risk from low animal health in developing countries is far greater than the risk from terrorism. Poor veterinary standards in developing countries are a huge public health and economic risk to the US. A system that allows bats in piggeries and sales of diseased pigs is fundamentally flawed, as the film Contagion showed.

Prevention of a pandemic has to occur at its source in livestock. Getting the odds of a devastating pandemic from, say, 2%, to 1.5%, would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars in benefits.

Producertapeworms with the Prescription Drug Benefit

December 31st, 2011
8:15 pm

Ah, scare the folks! “We can’t cut funding for socialized medicine because people will die!” The sky is falling, the sky is falling, sayeth Chicken Little. What I’ve never been able to grasp, other than flagrant vote buying, why the hell we began doling out free medical care to folks who’s only contribution is that they’ve reached their 65th birthday. What BS! Thanks, Lybdon, for your horrid Great Society and War on Poverty. The percentages of these people haven’t ever budged. And thank you W, for your payoff to the tapeworms with your Prescription Drug Benefit.
We are not our brother’s keepers. If their children can’t pay for Granny and Granny hasn’t lived a responsible live to save for her own needs then it’s private charity or a trip to the nearest ice flow. The saintly poor and the entitlement dependent parasites are a cancer on our nation and they will eventually be the cause of it’s death.

Michael H. Smith

December 30th, 2011
1:54 pm

In the case of some outbreaks no amount of government preparedness does any real good. As usual when those events have happened in the past the only viable treatment remaining was a quarantine.

Most likely quarantine again will be the last best line of defense against any newly emerged pandemic for which medical science has no cure. People have a false sense of security in believing the more money government spends the better their odds. Only one problem bacteria and viruses eventually beat all the odds, otherwise there would never be any pandemics.


December 30th, 2011
11:17 am

No amount of money can prevent a pandemic is true. What the money is needed for is the response to the pandemic. There is a need for hospitals, trained personnel like doctors, nurses, pharmacists, chemists, bio-engineers and many, many more.

At the time of the outbreak is not the time to start building. It needs to be built before, and maintained until the worst happens.

No amount of money can prevent fires. So we build safer buildings with stronger codes. We build firehouses, buy firetrucks, train fire responders. It is a part o our landscape, and we realize it is more expensive to do without than it is to pay for it before it is needed. The same with medicine.


December 30th, 2011
10:03 am

we could only hope

Unearned Trust

December 30th, 2011
8:38 am

The only people who still possess the small pox virus are the CDC and the Russians. One need only look at the hyper overreaction from WHO and the CDC with their mountains of lies, inuendos, suppositions, fearmongering, etc. regarding H1N1 to see that they both benefit hugely from bioterror. Add to that the massive profits the pharmaceutical companies made from vaccines that were likely worthless and useless but sold by the billions to countries in response to the terror warnings and you can easily see where a “contagion” will come from if it ever comes. Fear the government whose history is covered in blood (and that’s the US by the way in case you weren’t paying attention).

The alternative would be some horrible animal virus coming from our massive, filthy, crowded factory farms in this country. Tens of thousands of cattle, pigs, chickens and others live in squalid conditions of overcrowding that lay the foundation for a massive outbreak of disease. To counter that they are all given huge doses of antibiotics that end up impacting human immune systems when the flesh is consumed. Overuse of antibiotics and useless vaccines by the medical community has further weakened human immune systems to the point that even minor disease outbreaks could spread like wildfire in the population.

Yes, the government has set the stage, and much like 9/11, you only need to see who will benefit to understand that all the claims of “keeping us safe” will fall by the wayside when profits, control of the population, and power grabs come into play.

And by the way, the flu shot has been shown in many studies to be highly ineffective and the various proteins and contaminants and thimerosal (mercury compound) have also been confirmed to harm the immune system of many who get the vaccine. While vitamin D on the other hand has been shown to be twice as effective in preventing the flu.


December 30th, 2011
7:47 am

“Could ‘Contagion’ come true?”

It’s not a matter of if it will come true as much as when it will come true. No amount of funding will stop a true pandemic, especially given the mobility of people.

Michael H. Smith

December 29th, 2011
11:27 pm

Yep, I got my flu shot. I’m sure it offers some protection but reality is that flu mutates, even within a so-called flu season for a given type.
Then other obscure deadly viruses seem to emerge in nature without warning from time to time, not only the deadly ones humans produce in labs or the drug resistant bacteria being created by the careless misuse of antibiotics.

I’ll have to disagree with those who fear spending cuts will make pandemics a likely reality or more of one. No amount of public funding is going to keep the evil germs at-bay or locked up, or buried forever. Sooner or later the bugs – i.e. bacteria and viruses – are going to win some major victories against humanity. Pandemics are an inescapable fact of nature and evolution.

But for whatever it is worth in humanity’s fight against the trillions of bacteria and viruses floating around, flu shot is still a wise thing to get.


December 29th, 2011
9:31 pm

I paid for my flu shot.