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The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Singapore is lagging in flu preparedness.

Singapore is lagging in flu pandemic preparedness, compared to Britain. This article here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/apr/28/swine-flu-mexico-scotland

...shows that the UK has 33 million courses of anti-influenza medication stockpiled for a pandemic. That is enough to treat 55% of the population. As I noted, however, in my previous article, Singapore only has enough drugs to treat 10% of the population. Clearly, Singapore seems to care less for its people than the UK does, for its.

Presumably, Singapore's relative lack of drug defenses against flu are due to a cost saving mentality: they would rather not overspend on something that may never be used, is how I think, they "think". Of course, they haven't given much to thought to what would happen if they have grossly underestimated treatment needs in the event of a pandemic (which they have...since in a true pandemic, treatment would most probably be needed for greater than 10% of a population. Western Samoa, for instance, showed 90% infection, in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.)

So, Singaporeans can be happy in the knowledge that their government prefers to save money, rather than save lives. You can all rest assured that the national reserves will be there when you need them. The only problem is, since they have saved so much money on drugs never bought, you might not be there to enjoy the national reserves when the day they come to be needed.

Seriously, though, I think more forethought should be given to worst case scenarios - and less to how to cut costs and be minimalist about investing in the health of the nation. Should Singapore ever truly underestimate a pandemic, the nation might not survive in its former state. Britain has clearly thought of these worst case scenarios and has enough drugs on hand to treat over half the population. If Britain can do it, why hasn't Singapore?

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and seven months, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, five years exactly, and Tiarnan, twenty-eight months, please go to:http://scientific-child-prodigy.blogspot.com/2006/10/scientific-child-prodigy-guide.html I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, wunderkind, wonderkind, genio, гений ребенок prodigy, genie, μεγαλοφυία θαύμα παιδιών, bambino, kind.

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 1:28 PM 

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

10% of country = Elites.
10% able to be vaccinated.

Coincidence?

1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought i read on an MOH website that Singapore has enough to cover 25% of the population which is as recommended by WHO. I could be wrong though, but i'm 75% sure i read correctly

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should read this first?

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/425580/1/.html

"1.15 million courses of Tamiflu"

Furthermore, this new flu virus is new, while Tamiflu was designed to combat previous strains- It could be a case of ineffectiveness or significantly reduced effectiveness against this new strain

8:05 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am afraid not. This week's daily newspapers in Singapore wrote of 500,000 courses of Tamiflu being stockpiled.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. Channelnewsasia.

This week's newspapers in Singapore wrote of 500,000 courses of Tamiflu...who are we to believe then? The number has suddenly increased. I have certainly seen changing official figures for many stories, in Singapore, in the past. So, I am left not knowing what is going on.

Perhaps they have managed to secure more stocks from somewhere since the first stories.

In any case, which figure is correct, now, it is inadequate, and lags behind the UK's preparedness.

9:21 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Perhaps you should check out the BBC which agrees with the stories in the Singaporean newspapers earlier this week.

The BBC says that Singapore has 500,000 courses of Tamiflu on hand. Personally, I don't believe a suddenly changing number coming out of Singapore. The BBC is a more reliable source.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8022516.stm

If CNA want to call it 1.15 million doses, show me the medicine. Then I will believe it. Otherwise, we are expected to believe that they got the number wrong in every other reference earlier in the week...and now they are getting it right (and the rest of the world i.e. the BBC is getting it wrong.).

Again, either way, it is TOO LITTLE.

9:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One can never believe what Singapore media say as it is nation-building press/media. If the truth is exposed and government caught by the media, the standard answer always is honest mistake or that no one expect to happen.
Even better,
"It's the Swine Flu. What to do, it happens."

10:26 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I am trying to get to the truth of this matter. The Singaporean media referred to 500,000 courses of Tamiflu earlier in the week. The BBC refers to 500,000 courses of Tamiflu for Singapore. Later in the week, a different source, CNA, refers to 1.15 million...this leads us to wonder, how come the sudden change? What is the truth?

The way I see it, is that the initial sources would have no reason to lie about the 500,000 courses...because they probably had not thought that it was too little. The first number is more likely to be correct, since the need to create the right image may not yet have swung into action.

Then again, it is possible that since the first reports that more Tamiflu has been sourced...or that the first reports were indeed wrong. But the question is: why would they be wrong? Why would the BBC be wrong, too?

In numerical terms, I have seen several reports of 500,000 courses mentioned, in different places and different national media re. Singapore...but I have only seen one report of 1.15 million courses on CNA. This again makes it hard to accept the latter figure without question.

The mixture of two sets of figures puts the actual number in doubt. However, it is very clear that whichever figure turns out to be correct, that neither figure is enough to cope with the potential need, in the event of a true pandemic. So, the situation remains worrisome...for if there is a true pandemic, there will not be enough treatments to go around.

We can only hope, therefore, that the spread of this disease is not so great...and that next time, Singapore stocks enough for everyone. They can afford to, after all...

For those who question the 500,000 figure, check the BBC site. Perhaps you could ask the BBC where they got their information.

7:26 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Update:

The Today, newspaper, today is in agreement with CNA on Tamiflu numbers, though it was not, earlier in the week. The agreement comes in an image making statement by a government spokesman.

Personally, I don't believe in numbers that change suddenly. Singapore's numbers on Tamiflu have "evolved" over the past few days...leading them to seem suspect, especially if you know anything of Singapore's history of manipulating numbers in the past.

The BBC, however, is regarded worldwide as reliable...and their figures agree with the 500000 courses of Tamiflu that Singapore itself spoke of earlier in the week.

So, the doubt remains. However, the Singaporean government side of things is coming into line with the new figures.

In the end, therefore, it is up to us to be left to wonder which figures to trust in.

I am not going to answer that for anyone...it is up to ourselves to do that.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Either set of Tamiflu figures is possible. It is possible that Singapore's media were wrong earlier and so was the rest of the world, such as the BBC. That is possible...but how likely?

It is also possible that the new set of numbers represent either a change in the situation, or were correct all along but wrongly described initially.

7:47 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

It should be noted, by foreigners, who will be unfamiliar with the media situation in Singapore, that the Singaporean media is famous for changing its stories - facts are rewritten, numbers change, the whole angle can shift, from day to day. This seems to be an attempt to massage public opinion in one way or another. Thus, those who know the Singaporean media well, tend to hold back when it comes to committing fully to accepting what they say. That is why I am doubtful, now that we have seen two sets of numbers for Tamiflu stocks, in one week. I think any wise person, given the media's nature, here, would also be cautious on the issue.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Valentine,

I find your stance amusing: it isn't difficult to say that the information you had at your disposal a couple of days ago was just that -- information a couple of days old and therefore, outdated (through no fault of yours).

Is it not possible that more courses of Tamiflu had been purchased over the last couple of days or so? And why not? You did say that Tamiflu courses are cheap enough for the likes of the Singapore Government.

To put it differently, what's the payoff for the Government to lie about this issue?

11:25 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. amusing.

I am merely pointing out a conflict in the information. Earlier in the week, government sources were saying 500,000 courses of Tamiflu - now they are saying 1.15 million courses of Tamiflu. If they have NOT bought any new stocks in the interim, then it is a lie. However, neither of us can know what the true situation is. If new stocks HAVE been bought, then they are unlikely to put it that way, since that makes them look as if they were unprepared for the situation...so they will just talk about their stockpiles, without saying exactly when they were stockpiled.

I hope that the recent figures are true. That would be better for everyone than the figures that were issued earlier this week. However, none of us can know what is true. We can only know that the figures have changed suddenly...which I don't tend to believe, since Singapore's official sources are always changing key figures when it seems expedient to do so. What makes me doubt the situation is the change in figures and their own past history of changing figures when put under the spotlight.

The pay off for the new figures is that it makes the government look less unprepared. (I still think it is not enough for a worst case scenario).

The latest figures, today, from a non Singapore government source are on the BBC website. At the time of writing, they say: 500,000 courses of anti-virals in Singapore, for flu.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/8022516.stm

12:10 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

By the way, my stance is that I hope that they HAVE bought some more Tamiflu/Relenza over the past couple of days...because in the worst case, we would need it.

While they are at it, why don't they buy enough for everyone in Singapore (if they can source it? I am sure that they can offer over the odds to secure some...)

12:13 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

By the way, "amused", I did mention that they might have sourced more Tamiflu since the early reports of their stockpile levels...so the situation was considered.

Thanks.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is natural that the UK has higher influenza vaccine stockpiles than Singapore.

The UK has flu outbreaks a couple of times a year whereas Singapore hardly ever has a flu outbreak.

Thats why we have to take flu shots when we travel to the UK for extended periods and get a new jab every year but we don't take flu shots in Singapore.

7:06 PM  
Blogger riverman72 said...

I am surprised by this and I have briefly read through the other comments.

I would've thought that after the Avian Flu (H5N1) scare, Singapore and other Asian countries would be very well prepared for any pandemic.

At the moment, it has not overly affected anyone outside of Mexico, with many recovering with Tamiflu. More cases emerge as I write, South Korea has one case I know of.

Virus so far has only been caught by people returning from the infected area in Mexico and no sign of Human to Human transfer yet.

Basic hygene will stop people passing on the virus, washing hands etc.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Re. natural stockpiles.

Your reasoning is sound...but misapplied. Tamiflu and Relenza are not vaccines, they are antiviral treatments. The wise stockpile of both, is to have enough to treat everyone who gets the flu. This is about preparedness for a pandemic...it is not about how much seasonal flu a country has. In this way, ALL countries should be equally well prepared, irrespective of their normal flu load, per season.

Thanks for your comment.

2:12 AM  

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