Underprepared for the next pandemic

first_imgDespite world-class hospitals and an army of highly trained medical personnel, the local health establishment doesn’t have the excess “surge” capacity to handle a flu pandemic outbreak.And Boston isn’t alone. A panel of experts on pandemics and public health said Wednesday that not only is such capacity lacking in Boston, it is in short supply around the world and would affect everything from providing beds for the sick to the ability to make and distribute vaccines.“There’s just little wiggle room in today’s health care system,” said Anita Barry, the director of Boston’s Infectious Disease Bureau.Barry spoke at the Harvard School of Public Health as part of a discussion about whether heath specialists are ready to handle the next pandemic. Though many people are thinking hard about the problem and keeping an eye on worrisome developments, such as a bird flu outbreak in China that has killed 45 and an outbreak of the SARS-like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) that has killed 64, the global capacity to handle a major outbreak is still a work in progress.The discussion, held by The Forum at Harvard School of Public Health, was presented in collaboration with Public Radio International’s “The World” and WGBH, and was part of the Forum’s Andelot Series on Current Science Controversies.Joining Barry at the event were Marc Lipsitch, professor of epidemiology and director of HSPH’s Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics; Klaus Stohr, vice president and global head of influenza franchises for Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics; and Robert Huebner, director of the Influenza Division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. The moderator was Peter Thomson, environment editor for PRI’s “The World.”Lipsitch provided an overview on pandemics, saying that to qualify, a virus has to be both easily transmissible between humans and new to the human immune system. The last flu pandemic occurred in 2009, with the H1N1 virus. The 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) was caused by a coronavirus and killed more than 700.Much of the event focused on flu, as past pandemics have killed millions. Vaccines are the best protection against a new flu virus. Though technology has improved production, it still takes weeks to create a new flu vaccine, months to get it to the public, and as long as a year to make it widely available around the world, Stohr said. Vaccine production remains dependent on the industrial capacity used to produce seasonal flu vaccine, and developing nations’ lack of capacity won’t change any time soon.The news isn’t all bad, however. Stohr said there are new technologies on the horizon that can cut initial vaccine development to just a week from the current four to six weeks. It may take as long as a decade, but other production technologies are being developed that may make it affordable to build and maintain idle capacity in case of a pandemic.Huebner, whose organization’s mission is to speed promising new technology to market in case of a pandemic, pointed to new ways to make vaccines and new types of medical devices, such as ventilators to help people in respiratory distress, as promising fields of research.In addition to technological tools, public health officials are armed with low-tech options, such as surveillance of current threats and closing schools and other gathering places to stop the spread of disease.Barry cautioned that such measures have to be implemented with an understanding of the potential effects — parents working jobs that don’t provide sick days may be forced to choose between staying home with their child and the income needed to provide for their families, she pointed out. In such a case, a child could be left home alone or sent to a day care where he or she would still be exposed to others or, worse, potentially carry infection to a new group of children.Careful deliberation over implementation is important, she stressed. Recommendations that public health workers wear specific masks during the 2009 bird flu outbreak worked well in hospitals, for example, but in schools, health workers didn’t have masks and were still faced with lines of sick students. Such measures have to be communicated well or they’ll fail, Barry said. Communicators, in turn, have to strike the right balance between caution and panic.Panelists agreed that national borders — whether closed in an emergency or not — are not a defense against a pandemic. Air transportation, for one, settles that. One study of closing borders in the United Kingdom estimated that it would slow the spread of a pandemic only by days.“It’s a global problem, we have to face it,” Lipsitch said.The event was covered via webcast.last_img read more

Did HomeBuilder bring a crowd to the auction of this East Brisbane renovator?

first_img MISSED OUT ON THIS PROPERTY? Brisbane’s most viewed house is back on the market “There’s plenty of talk in the marketplace of very low supply of property,” Mr Yesberg told the crowd of more than 50.“That is … obviously witnessed by the fact that we have so many people here today ready to buy this quality property – first time on the market in 70 years.” Bidders arriving for the auction of 10 Blackall St, East Brisbane. Photo: Debra BelaBidders also came with the knowledge that the new $25,000 HomeBuilder grant could help them convert the three-bedroom circa-1911 cottage into a grand Queenslander home.An opening bid of $700,000 knocked all but three buyers out of contention and by $770,000 it became a two-party race. The auction took place in the backyard of the 506sq m block. Photo: suppliedUnder the trees in the middle of the backyard was Emma Pierce and her husband, who currently live in East Brisbane but were looking for a larger home to renovate.Facing them and leaning against the side fence was Janelle Hunkin and her partner who were planning to move from their West End unit overlooking the river.“I’ve always loved workers’ cottages and when I found one that was in its original condition, the kitchen, the features, it was just right,” Ms Hunkin said. The original kitchen at 10 Blackall St, East Brisbane. Photo: suppliedWith 13 bids in three minutes, Mr Yesberg broke into the bidding volley to announce the property was on the market.“I’ll make this very clear, we are on the market, we are selling. This is the time to take the hands out of the pocket,” Mr Yesberg said.“Are you all done, all silent?”But with no further bids, the property sold to Ms Hunkin for $810,000. This East Brisbane workers’ cottage has sold at auction for $810,000. Photo: suppliedMore than 50 people came to see this inner Brisbane house sell for the first time in 70 years in a scene not witnessed since before the COVID lockdown. A large crowd representing 14 bidder groups and onlookers, turned out for the auction of 10 Blackall St, East Brisbane. Photo: Debra BelaThe five minute auction saw 14 groups of bidders social distancing on the grounds of the 506sq m property at 10 Blackall St, East Brisbane, with Ray White Brisbane auctioneer Dean Yesberg encouraging people to ‘spread apart’ while coronavirus restrictions remain. SEE WHAT ELSE IS FOR SALE IN EAST BRISBANEcenter_img “Congratulations, we look forward to seeing what you do,” Ms Pierce said to the new owner.More from news02:37International architect Desmond Brooks selling luxury beach villa7 hours agoParks and wildlife the new lust-haves post coronavirus9 hours ago“I want it back to the original,” Ms Hunkin replied.The $25,000 Federal Government HomeBuilder grant to stimulate new building and significant renovation work is limited to renovations of between $150,000-$750,000 where the existing property is valued at no more than $1.5 million and the homeowners earn a combined annual income of no more than $200,000.When asked whether she met the criteria to be able to apply for the $25,000 HomeBuilder grant, Ms Hunkin replied: “I don’t believe so, no”.Ray White Brisbane agent Karen Pierce said after the auction that while there were more than the allowed 20 people onsite, they were made up of 14 family groups who were socially isolating on the large outdoor site. A crowd gathers for the auction of 10 Blackall St, East Brisbane. Photo: Debra Bela“We had the name, address and phone number of everyone there,” Ms Pierce said.“We did no advertising for the area and everyone was in their family groups.”The property had belonged to George Pridannikoff who was awarded a Queen’s Birthday honour in 1990 for services to the migrant community but was unable to attend the auction of the property which is part of the family estate. This original stove at 10 Blackall St, East Brisbane was built by Brisbane’s Crown Stoves which began in 1912 with a factory in Woolloongabba and a foundry in Greenslopes. Photo: Debra BelaIt was left to the vintage No. 4 Crown Stove, built in neighbouring Woolloongabba before World War II, to sum up the legacy of the property, using Crown’s famous household slogan: “They made their way by the way they’re made”. MORE PROPERTY STORIES FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOKlast_img read more

Boracay kids’ moral values ‘slowly diminishing’ – PCCI

first_imgAccording to the world Atlas, thesocial beliefs and customs practiced in the Philippines are primarilyinfluenced by religion and the demographics of the region where they arepracticed. The traditional customs of the indigenous Filipinos are based on thebeliefs of the Austronesian inhabitants of the Philippines.     Kids play with the famous white sand in Boracay Island, Malay, Aklan. PHOTO FROM KEN WILSON LEE VIA FLICKR/CREATIVE COMMONS Brugger added that while they respectthe culture of different races coming to Boracay, foreign tourists should also dothe same to Filipino culture. “Filipino kids in Boracay are nowinfluenced by the diversity of culture. The traditional cultures of hard work,love of nature and respectfulness, among others are slowly diminishing,” sheadded.    PCCI-Boracay president Elena Bruggersaid the call was necessary after the controversy of a Taiwanese female touristwearing only a “microkini,” in the island which recently went viral over socialmedia.  center_img “But even the photo of the Taiwanesewearing string went viral, I already saw Filipino children adapting the way oflife in Boracay. This resort island is considered a holiday destination andwhat Filipino children see are the side of a good life, drinking liquors, easygo lucky attitude. These traits can now be easily seen among millennials inthis resort island,” Brugger said. MALAY, Aklan – The president of thePhilippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI)-Boracay called on thedifferent sectors for the preservation of moral values among Filipino childrenin Boracay Island.           Brugger, meanwhile, said thePCCI-Boracay recently gave away food packs for parents and their children whowere affected of the fire incident last week./PNlast_img read more

Reds offer chance for winter caravan stop

first_imgGreat American Ball Park on Monday (Image: Reds/ Twitter)CINCINNATI — For the second year in a row, the Cincinnati Reds are offering the opportunity for a lucky fan to host a Reds Caravan stop in their town.With the “Reds Caravan Takeover” promotion, fans can submit an essay of 200 words or less on why a stop at their home, school or business would make a great addition to the Reds Caravan tour that travels though Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee on Jan. 22-24, 2015.The winner and 20 guests will have the chance to participate in an exclusive meet and greet and autograph session with Reds players, broadcasters and front office staff.Last year’s winner of the Reds Caravan Takeover was Sherry Gregor of Bridgetown, Ohio.Essays will be accepted through Dec. 15, 2014 and the winner will be announced in mid-January.Official entry form, details of the promotion and contest rules can be found at reds.com/caravan.last_img read more