View Full Version : SARS - Big hype over nothing ???

Andrew M
29th Apr 2003, 02:51
As most of you would have seen, there is a big deal being made out of SARS. The fear of SARS is spreading faster than the virus it's self. However, what is worse - hysteria or the virus ???

Imagine you were on the london underground and you had the cold. Imagine you were coughing severly and then all of a sudden the crowd around you quickly disperses as if you were a leper.

More people are killed each day by falling when putting on their trousers (proberly ! :) ) Seriously, more people are killed by car accidents.

Another little thing niggling at me, is SARS a mutation of the cold/flu, or is it a result of bioterrorism ???

I. M. Esperto
29th Apr 2003, 03:39
I'm very suspicious of this SARS thin. The numbers seem insignificant compared to HIV's and others, but it's constantly in the news.

I just don't understand wy.

29th Apr 2003, 04:14
For those of you in the UK, Channel 4 is broadcasting a programme "SARS:Killer Bug" at 2100bst this evening. It seems to me that there is something peculiar about SARS or at least in the way the World Health Organisation and the national medical organisations in countries around the world are reacting to it and it will be interesting to see how the programme addresses this.

The reaction of the British Department of Health "it is a minor concern" is reminiscent of the public denials that have been proclaimed loudly but subsequently shown to be false (salmonella and BSE are two examples that come to mind).

There is a saying in medicine, I understand, "when you hear the sound of hooves don't assume it is a herd of zebras" - in other words, when there are particular symptoms, don't assume it is something unusual, it is more likely to be something common. BUT for the first time in my personal experience, the world is now focussing on a disease which, as folks better qualified than I have said, appears less contagious than many other worse diseases known to man, so I have to ask why?

Anyway. I hope the C4 programme will be enlightening and not just media distortion.


Andrew M
29th Apr 2003, 04:35
I think that (repeat: think, not an accusation) that the sudden news coverage of SARS is to tease people away from Iraq.

As of yet, there has been no finds of weapons of mass destuction in Iraq. This was the reason to justify the war wasn't it ???

The majority of the UK nation keep hot debates about thinks that is on the news. I'm not talking about Sky News or CNN - just the mainstream channels such as (UK)Channel 4 and BBC 1+2. Anything that doesn't have news coverage everyday is quickly forgotten.

Iraq is old news man - the media jumps about to different stories like a rabbit during mating season ! :)

29th Apr 2003, 05:44
SARS - a plague?

Despite the ready availability of cheap drugs, approximately 3,000 people died of malaria yesterday.

Another 3,000 died of it today.

Another 3,000 will die of it tomorrow.

And the day after.

And the day after that.

And so on................

But they'll be mostly poor people in poor countries - rural sub-Saharan African children, in the main.

So no flights will be cancelled; no-one will walk around in surgical masks (as if THAT would help anyway); no "experts" will pronounce gravely on the news; no politicians and pundits will demand that "something must be done".

But the daily 3,000 will be no less dead for all that.

And then there's tuberculosis...................:(

Andrew M
29th Apr 2003, 06:15
But they'll be mostly poor people in poor countries - rural sub-Saharan African children, in the main.

It's almost as if that doesn't matter though. We live in a developing world, so if people die of a disease then it is serious. It matters.

However, as well as those that died from malaria, what about the children who starved to death ???

SARS is just another passing fad. I would say in the UK there is a higher chance of slobbing out in front of the TV and dying of heart disease due to an unhealthy lifestyle than there is of catching SARS.

Why worry about SARS ???

We could take all the precautions, cross the street and get ran down with a bus ! :ouch:

When our time is up, it's up - doesn't matter what way we die - as long as we lived a happy, fulfilling life before the death. And worrying about SARS for no reason isn't living a fulfilling life.

And if I say anything further I can see this getting transferred from Jetblast to Question Time :zzz: :D

29th Apr 2003, 15:03
Trying to keep SARS in perspective, according to a quick Google session, the 1918 Spanish Flu' epidemic killed 500,000 people in the USA and 20,000,000 worldwide. (The high death toll possibly reflects the fact that antibiotics used in treating pneumonia were not yet available in 1918) The 1968/69 Hong Kong Flu' epidemic killed 34,000 Americans. Between the years 1972 to 1995, each of 6 flu' epidemics killed 40,000+ people in the USA while another 11 killed 20,000+ each. This out of an average of 114,000 people hospitalised each year, suggests a death rate of around 25% for the worst affected influenza cases against around 5% for hospitalised SARS cases.

So, SARS isn't in the same league as influenza, nevertheless the panic caused by overhyped reporting and irresponsible government reactions is causing economic collapse and is set to destroy much of the aviation industry. Last night on TV I saw schoolchildren being marched through disinfectant 'sticky-mats' on their way into school, while wearing face masks and goggles. What the hell is going on??? Should the WHO be disbanded or perhaps reformed after stripping out the "Luvvies"?

Through difficulties to the cinema

29th Apr 2003, 15:31
The points made in this thread have also been discussed by Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, head of the WHO.
There are ways of combatting/preventing/curing the conditions mentioned on this thread.
That's one of the big differences between SARS and malaria or obesity!
Combine the fact that there is no cure nor vaccin for SARS with it's high mortality rate (above 10% acc to professor Roy Andersson UK) and you have the possibility of a new global scourge in the making.

The WHO wishes to avoid this.
Mrs Brundtland has shown herself to be a woman of great integrity in the past. Without hidden agendas ever having been discovered by the press.
If she claims SARS needs powerful measures from all of us, I tend to believe her.

A lot of interesting numbers on the website of fellow PPRuNer christep via this link (http://home.so-net.com.hk/~pns/)

29th Apr 2003, 16:33
There is no cure for many diseases. Influenza constantly mutates so that it requires a brand new vaccine each year. Vaccine that can only be developed once the disease has ocurred, the new variant is identified and the new vaccine cultivated. Although it appears to mutate faster than influenza, SARS seems to be much less infectious and measurably less deadly (ie it has a lower death rate).

Malaria is developing resistance to treatment and is rapidly returning. There is no sign that new treatments will be developed any time soon and the disease has greater killing potential than any other disease, including SARS. heart disease or cancer.

Tuberculosis has already returned, even in developed countries, but especially in the developing world and the new strains are antibiotic resistant.

AIDS has no known cure, no truly effective treatment and will reduce the population of Africa by half over the next decade or so; eliminating South Africa as an economic entity within three generations in the process.

It simply isn't acceptable to write these pestilential diseases off as less significant than SARS. They all require attention.

In the meantime the economy of Taiwan has lost 50% of its value in less than a month. Singapore has gone back into economic decline after almost recovering from the (artificially induced) asian economic collapse. More worrying to our own industry, half of asia's airline fleets have been grounded, passengers have all but disappeared on many routes and the future looks increasingly bleak. At a meeting recently, participants were routed from Europe via California, Honolulu and Australia to Borneo, taking two days to avoid the 18 hour direct journey via either the Middle East or Singapore. The Italians flatly refused to come at all, even though no case of SARS has occurred here. The WHO has meanwhile effectively placed the entire city of Toronto under quarantine.

We are flying with our re-circulation system turned off to increase the amount of "fresh" (?) air in the cabin, bypassing the HEPA filters in the process. Cabin air is normally of similar quality to that in the intensive care, burn wards or operating theatres of hospitals. Shutting the recirculation system off achieves nothing, except perhaps to decrease the humidity level, increase nasal irritation and thus increase the liklihood of cross infection. Yet we do so to pander to "public perceptions" Is that what all the fuss is really about? Public Perceptions that they get from where exactly?

As one who might also end up jobless as a result, you still don't perhaps consider all this might be a teeny bit of an over-reaction?

Through difficulties to the cinema

29th Apr 2003, 17:21
Blacky, the truth is, I don't know if it is or if it isn't.
IN fact, to find out exactly that, I started a thread on the medical forum yesterday. Which was rightly merged with another thread running there BTW, and has not generated any answers as yet.

So in my state of not knowing, I seek.
And try to pay heed to the opinion of people who in the past have proven to be reliable in their field of expertise and of integrity otherwise.
Like Mrs Brundtland.

And to add to what you have written, she did not write off these other diseases off as less significant. What she said was that they already are scourges, while we still can prevent SARS from becoming one.
A subtle but significant difference IMHO.

Your story about the recirculation-system being turned off is in line with many other stories of useless measures being taken; milksops to keep us appeased. Another question I posed yesterday on the Med forum was about that.

But to then conclude that SARS itself is a hyped up scare on the basis of the fact that some of the current anti-SARS measures are born of ingnorance, is not something I am able to do.
It seems flawed logic to me.

Again, I do not know if what is happening now is an over-reaction. Some of the measures taken obviously are useless, but is the WHO over reacting?
Up to this point in time, nothing I have read or heard makes me think it has. And I do read more than PPRuNe. ;)

Yes Blacky, the thought of losing my job is scary. The thought of bringing SARS home to my kids even more so.
I'm not losing sleepover it, but I wouldn't mind knowing a hell of a lot more about it that what I do now.

29th Apr 2003, 17:55

29th Apr 2003, 18:58
If there's a cure against Malaria, then why let the world this happen year after year in Africa? A child dies every 30 seconds and nobody cares. Because there's no Malaria in Western Civilisation and SARS is?

Influenza and complications kills 250.000 people a year, Cholera 150,000, Malaria kills a MILLION, mostly African children, for years already. Recently in our country several elder people die in elderly homes because of lung viruses, we had outbreaks of Legionnaire's disease, but never seen a reaction like with SARS. In our safe world we all want to live forever, control everything, yet we are still mortal which for some is hard to accept.

In comparison with Malaria and Cholera, yes I think we overreact to SARS. It's becoming more a prosperity disease.

29th Apr 2003, 20:07
It's extremely depressing to see that the best we can say about this is "Bwaah, bwaah, bray, luvvies, UN, wurrgh" (to sum up). The WHO has done a hell of a job so far - one only needs to think of Dr Urbani in Vietnam, the remarkably rapid identification of the virus, the first epidemiological studies, the persuasion of China to 'fess up. But no. We have to have tiresome imported UN bashing at every opportunity, just because the madder US Republicans and their media clients say so. And what is the brilliant alternative offered? "Strip out the luvvies" But he used the word luvvies - he must be right!

29th Apr 2003, 20:57
it seems quite serious to me *cough*

29th Apr 2003, 22:56
I think the 'blue touch paper' is still smouldering with SARS, there is potential for this to become a greater killer than say the 1918 flu of AIDS. Personally, I think it would be a very dangerous thing to underestimate the danger of this virus (which in our nice 'clean & hygienic' western world, is an easy thing to do).
I'm not sure where Blacksheep got the figures from (I'm not starting a flame war) but I think to say; 'SARS seems to be much less infectious and measurably less deadly' is mostly incorrect.
SARS has been shown to be spread not only through close contact but also through transmission through faeces and is massively infective. Also the published figures are showing the SARS death rate to be somewhere between 5-15%, which is higher than the 1918 pandemic of only about 5%.
Personally, I'm hoping SARS will just burn out into nothing, and people will say it was all hype. If that happens, it needs to be remembered as a near miss, and a lot more cooperation between governments needs to happen to deal with the next 'emerging disease', or the next might make SARS look like a slight cold.

<Rant mode> off