While many of us were opening gifts on Christmas morning, SurvivalBlog
reader "Hamlet" said that he was was
casually watching Tim Russert and his guests on Meet the Press. He reports: "My jaw dropped as Tom Brokaw...told of... family bug-out plans and stored food/water preparations." The following is brief excerpt from a transcript of the show. (The link to access the full transcript follows.)
MR. RUSSERT: Let me talk about an issue that is of grave concern to people but we don't know much about it and that's the Avian Flu, the potential for pandemic. We had Dr. Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization on MEET THE PRESS. Let's listen to him and come back and talk about how to deal with this.
(Videotape, November 20, 2005):
DR. MICHAEL RYAN (World Health Organization): The avian flu strain has the potential to become a pandemic strain. It is very worrying that we see this virus transmitting across the species barrier into humans and the virus itself is evolving and we are probably closer to a pandemic at any time in the last 37 years, since the last pandemic of '68. This virus has crossed the species barrier. It has infected humans. It's killing a high proportion of those human beings and we need to prepare for the possibility of a pandemic.
MR. RUSSERT: Ted Koppel, how do you cover a story like that without alarming people and still do your job as a journalist to prepare people?
MR. KOPPEL: You can't. You have to alarm people because until people are sufficiently alarmed they're not going to listen to what has to happen. You know, what you don't hear in that sound bite, and what is rarely spoken of, especially among the politicians, is that the kind of vaccine that would be necessary to treat the avian flu does not exist. It cannot exist until the strain of avian flu is developed and can be sampled and can be tested and then, and only then, can you begin to develop the vaccine. In order to develop sufficient quantities of that vaccine, to vaccinate people twice, you're going to need so many hundreds of millions of doses that it will take a minimum of two to three years to get them. In other words, by the time you
get them, it'll be too late to treat most of the people that would get the flu. Now, you know, obviously, that raises questions as to what needs to be done, what can be done. I tried, just before I left "Nightline" to do a broadcast in which we brought some of the best experts on and said, "Tell us what we need to know. Tell us what we need to do." Among
the things we need to do, and it sounds horrific, to say it, is to put in a decent supply of food and water and whatever medicine is needed by a family in each American home now, before it's too late, so that if, and when, a flu hits an area, like, let's say, our area here in Washington, the people, especially older people, or people who have breathing problems, lung problems, people who have heart problems, can afford to stay home for two or three weeks, or longer.
MR. BROKAW: Have you done that at your house?
MR. KOPPEL: No, in truth. Have you?
MR. BROKAW: We have.
MR. KOPPEL: Have you?
MR. BROKAW: Yeah.
MR. KOPPEL: Good for you.
MR. BROKAW: Well, we did it for a couple of reasons. Meredith--we live in New York and we have a house outside of New York and Meredith said, "This is going to be our sanctuary. We have to be prepared in case something happens." And we did put in a small supply of food and water and...
MR. KOPPEL: Yeah.
MR. BROKAW: ...other things to have on the ready. It's also--the avian flu and the pandemic possibilities are a real commentary on the world in which we're living now. The mobility of people to move across places that--the crush of population everywhere, how rapidly these things spread. And I think that leads in this country to a kind
of unsettled feeling on the part of a lot of people. They have so much access to information now. They don't feel that they have their own sanctuary because it all happens at warp speed and I think politicians are not doing a very good job in my impression.
MR. KOPPEL: But, you see, doing what Tom and Meredith have done, and what my wife and I have not done, yet--will do, I promise--wouldn't at this stage cause any shortages...
MR. BROKAW: No.
MR. KOPPEL: ...it wouldn't cause any panic. I'm not suggesting that people go out and instantly buy a four-week supply of medicine...
MR. BROKAW: Right.
MR. KOPPEL: ...food, water. But if you start...
MR. BROKAW: You have to think about it. Yeah.
MR. KOPPEL: ...over a period of the next three months...
MR. RUSSERT: And that's the hard truth, it's probably the only thing you can do.
MR. BROKAW: Yeah.
MR. KOPPEL: Just--it's the only thing that the individual can do...
MR. BROKAW: Yeah.
MR. KOPPEL: ...so that at the very least, if the pandemic hits your community, you can stay at home, don't go out.
Frankly, I don't find this too surprising, despite Brokaw's left-of-center leanings. Anyone that has worked in the press and who has been around natural disasters--particularly overseas--soon develops an appreciation of just how fragile societies can be. They've seen civilization come rapidly unglued before, and doubtless realize that it could happen again.