I know this may come as a shock, but I am going to recommend that you read an important article in L’Osservatore Romano. My fellow SummorumPontificum.net blogmate and Latin Mass enthusiast, Dr. Brian J. Kopp, DPM has a very interesting and disheartening article in the current edition of L’Osservatore Romano. In the article, Dr. Kopp interviews David Fedson, MD who is an expert in the field of influenza epidemiology. They discuss the facts surrounding vaccine production and about the reality the “haves” and the “have nots” and what can can be done to save lives.
This should be a social justice issue that every Catholic should be concerned about.
“The world situation, as the news in recent months amply demonstrates, continues to present serious problems and the “scandal’ of glaring inequalities which have endured despite past efforts”. These were the words of Pope Benedict XVI during the General Audience Catechesis outlining the fundamental messages of his recently released Encyclical Letter, Caritas in Veritate (see p. 11).
When viewing the current world situation from a Catholic perspective, the pursuit of social justice within all sectors is essential, as the Holy Father clearly expresses in his social Encyclical. This constitutes the task of securing both the physical and spiritual well-being of every human being.
For this to happen the support of the governmental, medical and philanthropic communities of first world nations is urgently needed. Thus a broader vision concerning the challenges facing the world’s less developed areas is crucial. This view was also expressed at the recent G8 Summit.
In the spirit of this same kind of solidarity, Brian J. Kopp, DPM, spoke with David Fedson, MD, on 3 July about the current H1N1 swine flu pandemic and the prospects for equitable treatment alternatives in developing countries. Indeed, a testament to the importance of this particular issue was President Obama’s participation from Italy via telephone link in the Influenza Preparedness Summit held at the National Institutes of Health on 9 July.
Dr. Fedson is a retired American physician living in France. He has long worked on the epidemiology of influenza and influenza vaccination, first as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Virginia and later as Director of Medical Affairs for Aventis Pasteur MSD. He has served on several American and World Health Organization (WHO) committees on influenza immunization, and was instrumental in establishing the Influenza Vaccine Supply (IVS) International Task Force and the Macroepidemiology of Influenza Vaccination (MIV) Study Group. He clearly knows the influenza vaccine industry from the inside. He also knows that the arithmetic for a pandemic is simple: you can only treat the victims of a pandemic if effective vaccines and medications are widely available. For 90% of the world’s population, this won’t be the case.
With the current swine H1N1 pandemic influenza virus, as with the H5N1 avian flu and 1918 pandemic viruses, deaths have been prominent among the 15- to 45-year old adults. These deaths have been associated with a severe immune reaction, often called a “cytokine storm.” For more than five years, Fedson has been calling for urgent and sharply focused research to determine whether drugs that reduce inflammation or modify the host response the way that the body responds to infection or injury could be used to manage the pandemic. Focusing on inexpensive generic drugs that are readily available, even in developing countries, could address the inequity already being seen, and could save millions of lives in the current and in future pandemics.