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The Swine Flu: Genuine Threat, or an Hogwash Excuse for Protectionism?

April 27, 2009

I am no doctor or scientist. I could not say for certain if the recent furor over the outbreak of Swine Flu in U.S., Canada and Mexico is over a genuine threat. But I cannot help but share Mara’s ambivalence on this. Indeed, being located in New York during this Great Swine Flu Threat, as I was in Toronto during the SARS Super Scare, I have to say: sometimes it takes being in the eye of the storm to see how silly the outside world looks spinning, churning, and hand wringing itself into a Category 4 hurricane of absurdity.

Now, I might live to eat those words. But in international moves like this, and this, and this, I see less concern with health and more with protectionism and economic gain. You see, I can understand trying to keep flu infections from spreading, and, additionally, limiting the movement of suspect livestock across borders. But I fail to see how a package of Canadian hot dogs is a threat to Ukrainian health and national security, which today requires a Canadian “pork product” ban. Why might that be? Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with unruly regulations on Ukrainian travelers to Canada.

Someone prove me wrong.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 28, 2009 12:00 pm

    You may be right. Whether the threat is real or exaggerated, there will always be those who will find a way to use it to their advantage (The Gospel According to Naomi Klein 🙂

    I heard Donald Low today saying that given the huge numbers of infected in Mexico with mild symptoms, the mortality rate for this particular flu could well be about the same as regular seasonal flu. It’s just that tends to kill younger, healthier victims.

    • canworldjon permalink*
      April 28, 2009 4:09 pm

      Well, if that seems to be the case, then maybe there is something more to the alarm than just overreaching; it seems that health officials freak out if a disease tends to harm healthy people, rather than the usual victims — older people, infants, or people with compromised immune systems (due to other treatments or some other reason); SARS seemed to cause a lot of panic because it claimed a few victims early on who were middle aged and seemingly healthy.

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