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May 12, 2009

Complacency, or overreaction?

The influenza outbreaks has almost disappeared from mainstream news, but remains an important focus in high-profile scientific publications such as Nature.

Its latest issue (May 7th) features an interesting editorial: Between a virus and a hard place. In brief, the main message of this editorial is that "complacency, not overreaction, is the greatest danger posed by the flu pandemic".

In a way, this is very true: the virus was (and still is) spreading rapidly, and it took some time to determine how virulent it was.

However, as I tried to explain earlier, viruses can now spread more rapidly and are identified more readily, independent of their virulence (which takes some time to assess).

Repeated overreactions can only lead, in the long term, to complacency. This, as suggested, would be dangerous.
The only valid long-term solution is, therefore, to promote reasonable reactions.