Book Excerpt from: (2006) Beat the Flu: How to Stay Healthy through the Coming Bird Flu Pandemic
The Coming Global Pandemic
The pandemic time bomb may have been activated. We are powerless to stop it or even slow it down. All the science we can muster, all the money we can spend, all the technology at our disposal may be swamped by this tsunami of disease. It may ravage cities, bring powerful countries to their knees and become the single greatest killer in centuries. The numbers it might kill are so large they challenge our comprehension.The only way to grasp the magnitude of this coming pandemic is to break the numbers down to groups we can more easily imagine: the crowd in a stadium, the audience in a theatre, the passengers on a jet. It’s as if a fully loaded Boeing 747 just crashed. Then 13 seconds later another 747. In just over 13 seconds two full plane-loads of people have been killed in an unprecedented tragedy that headlines the international news and galvanizes the world. And then, after 13 more seconds, another one has crashed, bringing the death toll to more than1,200 in just about 30 seconds. How could this happen?Could these deaths have been prevented? While you ponder these questions another 747 has crashed. Four jumbo jet-loads of people have died and the first minute is not even quite up yet.In the next minute over 2,000 more people die. And in the next minute more than 2,000 additional people are gone. A sold-out Drury Lane Theatre in London or La Scala in Milan, all dead in a single minute. Wealth, position,status or lack thereof are not factors in this inconceivable scourge that kills more people in 90 seconds than September 11 terrorist attacks on the US. And the deaths continue at this unimaginable rate, the equivalent to a packed Old Trafford or a Hiroshima A-bomb every 30 minutes.More people are killed in two hours than the 26 December Indian Ocean Tsunami. Every 24 hours another Mel-bourne, Caracas, Athens or Chicago dies. In three weeks the entire civilian and military death toll of World War II is exceeded. According to Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, by the time this unthinkable wave of death abates after a few months, 360 million people would be dead, a number equal to every man,woman and child in the US and Canada combined.Even the number of nuclear blasts expected in the Cold War’s Mutually Assured Destruction fell significantly short of killing 360 million people. The Pentagon estimated that 3,000 nuclear warheads dropped on the US would result in 25 million casualties and a similar number in the Soviet Union.This is not the work of some genocidal terrorist. There is no terrorist weapon that can come close to approaching this level of fatality. Death on this scale can only be achieved by the impact of a giant asteroid – or a microscopic ghoul. The latter case will leave our cities standing,but they will be empty and sullen.