People are starting to compare antismoking zealotry with complacency about Ebola.
Example 1: H/T Harley for a Newsmax interview of Dr Jane Orient, the last part of which I’ve transcribed.
Newsmax: Doctor, do you think they know what they’re doing? Does he [Frieden] know what he’s doing? I mean, this is the guy who wanted soda banned, sixteen ounces or more in NYC, because it was a health threat. This is a guy who says you can’t pass by someone in the street, even one, smoking a cigarette because it’s a health hazard. Does he know what he’s doing here with this?
Dr. Jane Orient: That’s a good question, and I don’t think you can really answer it. Maybe he knows what he’s doing, and that’s exactly what he wants to do. But certainly if you look at the precautions against secondhand smoke, which are absurd… I mean, the hazards of secondhand smoke, unless you’re just sensitive to it and it bothers you, are really non-existent. And yet all of this defence in depth against, and expensive restrictions against these non-hazards – and a pathogenic, lethal organism that can infect you with one to ten particles we’re so cavalier about, this just really does not make sense.
Newsmax: You talked about this with me a week ago, but you’ve made some other statements recently. Where are we on droplets? Explain droplets, how they could possibly infect someone with Ebola. Is that airborne you’re talking about?
Dr. Jane Orient: Well, I guess your body fluids have to go through the air unless you touch somebody. You generate an aerosol if you cough or sneeze or vomit or have explosive diareohea, and it makes droplets of different sizes. The ones that are really, really tiny can get through your mask, around your mask, down into your lungs, and they do have receptors for the target cells down in your lungs. And the question I think they’re relying on is that the virus does not survive being dried down to a particle of that size. But there’s experimental evidence that it can survive for as long as 90 minutes on one of those droplets.
Newmax: So it is transmissible through the air in your opinion right now?
Dr. Jane Orient: Theoretically it certainly is. We cannot rule it out. Epidemiologically, if you look at how people got the Ebola, it doesn’t seem to be very important, but just because it’s inefficient… (interview ends)
More and more people seem to be coming round to the idea that there is an airborne route for Ebola.
Anyway, example 2: H/T mntvernon for a piece by Ian Birrell in the Independent:
The most egregious failure is that of the World Health Organisation, the United Nations body meant to show leadership on such matters. It seems incredible that when MSF first warned Ebola was getting out of control in April, it was rebuked on social media by a WHO spokesman. Two months later the spread and scale of the epidemic was obvious to experts – yet it took two more months for this inept organisation to finally concede there was an international health emergency. It blames local officials – yet even last week its boss spent the week discussing tobacco taxes in Russia rather than tackling the crisis.
Heads should roll for such failures. But do not hold your breath, given how the arrogant UN still refuses to apologise for cholera spreading to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, which has so far killed 9,000 people. Now its officials are berating countries for ignoring what has become a global security threat, although this is partly a consequence of their own fatally slow response that delayed more rapid deployment of resources.
The BBC puts a different spin on it, of course:
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the world’s biggest, most important public health body that has had major successes.
It has ensured that millions of children worldwide are free from the danger of polio.
It runs huge programmes aimed at combating HIV/Aids, malaria and tuberculosis, and its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is ensuring that countries are banning smoking in public places and clamping down on tobacco advertising.
But when it comes to a sudden new health threat, or a danger in an unexpected region, many say the WHO does not really deliver.
That portrays Tobacco Control measures as one of the “major successes” of the WHO. And it portrays Ebola as a “new” health threat, when actually it was discovered way back in 1976. The “unexpected region” line is straight out of the WHO’s ebola excuses playbook, but it makes no sense at all. The 1976 outbreak was in Nzara, South Sudan, which is a sub-Saharan country on the same latitude and on the same continent as Guinea and Liberia and Sierra Leone, where the current epidemic is raging. So isn’t that where you’d expect future outbreaks to appear? The map below from Wikipedia shows the spread of Ebola from 1976 to 2009:
And there had already been an outbreak (Tai Forest, Cote d’Ivoire) in the “unexpected region” in 1994, fully 20 years ago. And Ebola has been marching steadily west and south for the past 40 years. And the outbreaks have been getting larger and more frequent.
But under the leadership of Gro Harlem Brundtland, the WHO was giving priority to rolling out the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, and fighting against the non-existent “global tobacco epidemic.” And, judging from the FCTC conference in Moscow last week, that’s still where its priorities lie.