La dura realidad acerca de la gripe aviar

Las cuestiones en torno a la posibilidad de una pandemia de la cepa H5N1 de la gripe aviar son extraordinariamente complejas y tienen que ver con la medicina, la epidemiología, la virología, e incluso la política y la ética. Además, hay una tremenda incertidumbre acerca de cuándo exactamente el H5N1, que actualmente afecta ante todo a las aves, podría mutar a una forma transmisible entre los humanos y qué tan contagioso y letal podría ser.

Por lo tanto, no es sorprendente que con frecuencia los comentarios sobre la gripe aviar estén equivocados. Por ejemplo, recientemente un editorial del New York Times denunció la actitud del "yo primero" de los países ricos hacia una posible pandemia del H5N1 porque "la mayor esperanza para detener una pandemia, o al menos, ganar tiempo para hacerle frente, es mejorar la vigilancia y las prácticas sanitarias en el Este de África y Asia, donde probablemente se originaría".

Ciertamente se necesita una buena vigilancia para obtener una advertencia oportuna de que se ha detectado una cepa del H5N1 de la gripe transmisible entre humanos, de tal manera que las naciones de todo el mundo puedan iniciar rápidamente una serie de medidas de salud pública, incluyendo un programa que produzca cantidades grandes de la vacuna en contra de esa cepa. Pero la labor masiva que se necesita para "mejorar las prácticas de salud en los países más pobres del mundo" funciona mejor en las páginas editoriales que en la práctica.

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