The Toronto Star offers a retrospective piece on the flu story: In the end, fear was the real pandemic. That would be apt if only we had indeed seen the end of avian flu. The writer observes:
This year saw Canada host a global health ministers' pandemic forum, the U.S. release its $7.1 billion pandemic plan, Swiss drug manufacturer Roche donate 30 million doses of the antiviral Tamiflu for poor nations to fight a pandemic, the City of Toronto release its own pandemic report, and Pacific Rim countries, including Canada, agree on a co-ordinated bird flu outbreak strategy.
However, we also witnessed events that, according to critics, spun from alarmist rhetoric: a blogger frenzy on the Internet urging people to stock up on food and flashlights; an unprecedented rush on Tamiflu that forced Roche to halt worldwide sales; an international border spat between Australia and Canada over a few pigeons carrying flu antibodies; and the Conference Board of Canada declaring an unfathomable 1.6 million Canadians could die in a pandemic.
Some of the rhetoric in the discussion forums gets heated at times, but the flu bloggers as a group seem more stolid than frenzied. Well, maybe the Star writer picks up our subconscious hysteria between the lines.