-- Kamran Khan, BIO.DIASPORA project
Kamran Khan, M.D., M.P.H. will be on John's radio show tonight at 9:20 PM Eastern Time on 77-WABC AM in New York (and on 630-WMAL AM in Washington D.C.).
See the schedule for more details on tonight's show and other cities in which the show airs.
The links I provided are to WABC and WMAL online streaming. For listeners outside the USA, WABC can be heard online in many countries around the world. And a podcast of the show will be available on Monday at John's website.
Dr Khan will be discussing the BIO.DIASPORA project with John. It's not possible to overstate the importance of the project; in one sentence it is the best chance humanity has for getting free of the Dark Ages in the public health regime's approach to infectious disease control.
BIO.DIASPORA is not new; it was started in response to the SARS outbreak. Yet governments are still not making effective use of the project's approach.
For readers who missed my last post, here is the BIO.DIASPORA mission statement:
[To] understand global patterns of human travel via commercial airlines as a way to predict how emerging infectious diseases are most likely to spread around the world -- and consequently apply this knowledge to help the world's cities and countries better prepare for and respond to global infectious disease threats of tomorrow.The project, which is based at St. Michael’s Hospital, a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto, reflects a convergence of public health management and various scientific, mathematical, and computer disciplines.
BIO.DIASPORA used data obtained from the International Air Transport Association to map how the 2009 swine flu virus spread via air travel. This June 30 Reuters report summarizes the study, which is described in greater detail in a June 29 letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The research outlined in NEJM plotted the relationship between international air traffic flows to different countries and H1N1 importation to reveal that "countries receiving more than 1400 passengers from Mexico were at a significantly elevated risk for importation" in the early months of the outbreak.
If you ask why it should take statistical analysis to demonstrate that the sun shines and rain falls downward: Yes it's self-evident that near-simultaneous outbreaks of swine flu around the world were due to arriving international air passengers infected with the disease. But BIO.DIASPORA puts the observation on a scientific footing.
And without Science prodding them, the public health establishment, and the governments they answer to, will continue to play ostrich about the obvious need to make international airports the staging area for the first line of defense against a pandemic.
This is the strategy that China's government mounted against swine flu, which allowed them to greatly slow the spread of infections in both the country's Mainland and Hong Kong territory. This bought the country's vaccine developers and health departments precious time to gear up for wider outbreaks of the disease.
And because China monitored outbound air international passengers, they prevented the wholesale export of swine flu infections from their country. (Mexico did the same once they realized what they were dealing with.)
Countries that made little or no attempt to monitor inbound air passengers for fever and other signs of illness were quickly overwhelmed by the spread of the disease. And countries with a high incidence of swine flu cases, and which made no effort to monitor outbound air passengers for fever, played 'Typhoid Mary' to the rest of the world.
This negligence is no less barbaric just because 'everybody does it.' Everybody did a lot of dumb and inhumane things in humanity's past. It is time for us to leave the Dark Ages in infectious disease control. If you can help get the word about BIO.DIASPORA to your government and local media outlets, that would be a step toward the light.