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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Socialized Medicine

Carl at No Oil For Pacifists wrote an excellent post about socialized medicine. It has facts, figures and informational links galore. Certainly I can't improve upon it.

But I can offer an example of socialized medicine in action next door in Canada. It also has the merits of being extremely funny in an extremely dark fashion. This thread on the Current Events forum covers the statements by Canadian public health officials about the threat of a pandemic H5N1 (bird flu). The article is followed by outraged fiskings from Canadians. For example, a Canadian nurse writes:
The triumph of hope over reason?


I clicked my heel together 3 times - I should be back in Kansas by now?

After SARS, I expected something at least slightly better. I mean, I knew better than to expect better but.... sigh Maybe they've fallen prey to a virulent strain of brain flu. No other way I can explain such bonehead statements.
And another Canadian goes nuts and fisks the entire statement (statement in blue, fisks in black):
A new pandemic likely wouldn't resemble the famous killer flu of 1918-1919 whose victims were often in the prime of youth, he said. More likely it would look like the epidemics of the 1950s and '60s.

Again: Totally contradicted by experts who know better than you, Dave. Who is paying you to come with this pablum???

That could mean having 30-40 per cent of the population sick during flu season, compared with the normal level of about five per cent.

And exactly WHO is gonna take care of all the extra sick people??? Our hospitals don't have enough surge capacity to handle the everyday-vanilla flu we get every year.

"The individual risk - in other words my risk as a 51-year-old asthmatic during a pandemic if I get sick - my risk of dying is the same as my risk of dying every single year during influenza season.

O.K. *YOU* fly to Jakarta and hang out at the zoo. I bet you have cartons of Tamiflu stuffed in your sock drawer, Dave.
This is the best part:
Public Health Minister Carolyn Bennett, who was also attending the conference, said Canada has adequate stocks of vaccine and has made a lot of progress in preparing for an emergency, should it occur.

She suggested that mutual support among citizens is one of the most important elements of a response.

"The part that bugs me most is the bottom-up part. Does every Canadian know who their three neighbours are . . . and would we be able to get them the chicken soup and not get infected?"
Bwahahahahahahaaa! The death rate for the cases in Asia is running over 50%, there's no vaccine at all, there's not enough antiviral medicine by a long shot (so it will probably be restricted to health care workers), and the Canadian Public Health Minister is recommending everyone take chicken soup to their sick neighbors? That's the disaster plan?

The only weapon currently available to fight this disease is quarantine - medical quarantine. And the proposal of the Canadian minister is that everyone go visit their sick neighbors. It's gloriously, triumphantly insane! It's the most effective way possible to spread the disease. And the dingbat doesn't even know that there is no vaccine available for this - she thinks they have plenty! Someone should sit her down and explain quietly and patiently that planning for disaster doesn't mean planning to create a disaster - it means planning to minimize a disaster.

So with that in mind, maybe you should go read Carl's post. Remember, socialized medicine means that doctors aren't in control - government officials are in control. Government officials like Carolyn Bennett are so efficient that they produce high death rates without breaking a sweat. Believe me, if this pandemic does occur there is going to be a much higher death rate from it in Canada than in the US, chicken soup notwithstanding.

MOM, see this

Look around, as well. Real fresh air.
That is indeed great stuff.
Actually, they do have a theoretical vaccine. You just can't really test it until you have an actual outbreak. And, yes, it will take a long time to get enough for a large scale vaccination, but we would have the same problem in our non-socialized health care system in the US. We have the pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies in charge here. We don't seem to be any more prepared.

And please explain to me the brilliance of the US insurance companies - I am going to Guatemala in the spring. My insurance company won't pay for ANY preventative medicine (e.g. anti-malarial drugs, vaccines, etc) but will cover the medications to treat malaria or other exotic disease if I come back with one. Same thing happened in 2003 when I went to Nicaragua.
Dingo, we have no one in charge here. I guess you'd better pay for your own medicine, then. Remember, Canada's socialized medicine doesn't cover pharmaceuticals AT ALL.

As for the theoretical vaccine, no. It's just going into age trials in October. The first set of trials showed that we possibly only have enough of that for about 300,000 immunizations. They are going to test adjuvants to see if they can improve that.

One of the problem with what we have is that it was prepared off a strain that was current a while ago, and in the tests conducted this summer it did not provoke much of an immune response even at doses as high as 45 mcg. They will retest those volunteers in December to see what kind of a lasting immune response they have, but they believe at least two shots will be required.

In all honesty, we don't have anything. The other problem is that the virus is mutating rapidly and what this was prepared from will probably be quite different from the strain that becomes efficient at infecting humans.

300 to 600 thousand doses of vaccine is nothing. This isn't really anyone's fault, because it is pretty well impossible to make an effective vaccine for a disease that hasn't appeared yet.

All of that doesn't excuse lying about what is happening, or refusing to deal with reality.

Btw, there may well be a shortage of the regular flu vaccine again this year. Chiron still has problems.
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