Avian flu and social science

Yana and I are now in Vienna, as I will be attending a conference on the social science aspects of pandemics.  If you are a new MR reader, here my paper on the policy implications of avian flu.  Here is an executive summary of the piece.

And what is the latest on avian flu?  The Thais had pretended to solve the problem but they were lying.  The Vietnamese have made real progress.  The Indonesians still refuse to release much of the sequencing information from their samples.  One study suggests that the cases of human-to-human mutation show significant mutation of the virus.  (Here is a more optimistic take.)  For the first time, one of the reported vaccines — from GlaxoSmithKline — seems to have significant potential.  It is unknown how much the virus is spreading in Africa.  Except for Indonesia there is more good news than bad, but of course it is not the average which matters.  The badness of the worst news will determine how the world fares.  It is hard to imagine how a serious pandemic would play itself out in crowded and infrastructure-dysfunctional China or India.

For more information on all these points, see the new version of EffectMeasure blog.

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