The influenza epidemic

The H1N1 influenza epidemic has received much media attention. Authorities fear a severe epidemic resembling the Spanish Flue, and they have taken their precautions. Norway has bought vaccines for the whole population, and has upgraded its hospitals to treat severe complications such as respiratory failure. The cost is uncertain, but is in the order of 1 billion Norwegian kroner (USD 160 million).

Some researchers question the government’s priorities in combating this epidemic:

Should Norway use such large funds on a mild influenza epidemic? Already in the early days of the epidemic, we got information that this was not an epidemic with high case fatality rates. The virus mainly infected young adults.

Has any estimate of the cost-effectiveness of this intervention been calculated? And, has this intervention been discussed in relation to other pressing health needs in the country? Would an intervention targeted at specific population groups be more cost-effective?

How sound is the government policy to buy 9 million doses (two doses per person) of a vaccine that is not thoroughly tested, and where the pharmaceutical industry would not cover the liabilities?

Other questions are:
How sound is the epidemiological modelling used by the Norwegian government? Should not their mathematical models have been adjusted as we learned how this epidemic evolved in other countries?

Does Norway need to strengthen its epidemiological research environment?

However, working is south Ethiopia; my most important question is how one of the richest countries in the world uses its huge wealth when meeting an irrational fear as a new swine-flue virus.
Could more lives have been saved if the rich countries used a smaller part of their influenza expenses to combat malnutrition, childhood diseases, maternal deaths tuberculosis, HIV, and malaria?

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