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Last Updated: Monday, 7 November 2005, 01:10 GMT
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"Bird Flu - Facing the pandemic", broadcast on Sunday 6 November 2005 at 22:15 GMT on BBC One.

Due to the high number of e-mails we get we cannot guarantee to publish every single message we receive. The e-mails published will reflect the balance of opinion. We may also edit some e-mails for legal reasons and for purposes of clarity and length.

The views expressed on these pages are not necessarily the views of the BBC. The e-mails published will be reflective of the balance of opinion received.


Why do politicians get priority to Tamiflu and people with low immune systems don't and how come some already have a stock when the public haven't even seen the drug?
Dee Burrell, Crowle, North Lincolnshire

I am disgusted that those people interviewed could say they already have a stockpile /prescription for bird flu. How is that? They should feel ashamed, considering the doctor working in Hanoi was unprotected. If they have a prescription someone needs to be looking into it.
Susan Johnson

With all of the debate about the virus mutating in a human, does anyone know whether the virus could mutate in the birds to become a strain which could be transmitted human to human? With a much larger number of birds affected than humans, how risky would this be?
Dawn Harris, Hereford

What worries me is who will get the relevant drugs and care? Obviously medical/primary care workers must be protected, but will people at higher risk be further up the list or will money talk and the poor be ignored - under-provided for as so often in the past?

As a diabetic my resistance and recouperative capabilities are reduced and the bird flu scares me silly. Unfortunately those who have the greatest/easiest access to drugs and care, are those who make most of the decisions.

If it is possible to produce at 0.8 million to one million a month why not two or three million a month? Money speaks and far more money should be being spent on further drugs to combat this disease - already there are signs of resistancy to the only drug known to be partially helpful.
Alison Munn, Chichester, UK

If Tamiflu is to be the weapon against a pandemic then why can we not pre-purchase a prescription of the drug. That way the companies involved in making the drug will have sufficient funding to step up the production of it.

If I were the president of a pharmacutical company then I would be looking to produce Tamiflu under licence of the company that ownes the rights to the drug. It is a sure bet to make a vast fortune and safeguard the future of Geat Britain and its people. Sometimes the answers are to simple for people to see.

I for one would spend my last pound to secure the amount needed to safeguard my children against such a threat.

There are ways to combat this growing threat but the politicians wont gain any points in the popularity contest by taking a stand to protect the population. If the virus mutates there will not be much of a population left to govern, have they thought of that?
Gareth Bowen, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Wales

Having travelled by plane from Liverpool to Barcelona and back in March and from Manchester to Nice and back in September I contracted a very severe cold on both occasions which took at least three weeks to get rid of.

This I believe is due to the fact that the air in planes on short flights particluarly is recycled over and over again.

Before flying from Manchester to Palma with a return from Sharm el Sheikh I went to Boots to purchase a face mask. They did not stock them and my comment to the pharmacist was that they ought to get their act together because if bird flu hits Britain and there is a shortage of vaccine then everyone should at least wear a face mask.

They found this very amusing. After watching your programme tonight I feel that face masks should be available immediately so that suppliers are not raided by the public if a pandemic occurs. I eventually was given a very pretty pink mask by my nail technician.
Lynda Fielding, Huddersfield, England

I watched the Panorama programme hoping to have some clarification on how the avian flu might affect pet birds, ie caged birds and aviary birds. I keep finches and canaries, mostly in an outside aviary. They don't come into contact with wild birds but what scares me is other people's fears and what they might do to my birds. My neighbours have small children and, whilst no one has (yet) asked me how the bird flu might affect my birds and themselves, I would like to be prepared, with calm and sensible advice.

I find it definitely an alarming signal that three out of four experts around the table have stockpiles of Tamiflu at home
Hugo, Leiden, Netherlands
I feel there is too much scaremongering going on, and not enough re-assurance to prevent panic-stricken people from taking matters into their own hands through fear.

Am I expected to cull my birds as a precaution, before someone else does?
Karen Dean, Bristol, UK

Surely by treating cases of bird flu with the "Tamiflu" drug it means that there is a chance of the virus mutating and becoming resistant to the drug. Shouldn't the "Tamiflu" be left untill the pandemic is serious enough for there to be no other option?
Joanna Puddle, London, England

I find it definitely an alarming signal that three out of four experts around the table have stockpiles of Tamiflu at home.

Obviously there is a panicky feeling of 'every man on his own' beside the quiet scientific distance these people adhere while in your programme.
Hugo, Leiden, Netherlands

The H5N1 virus would appear to have been around for some years. It seems to me that there has been much time to develop a vaccine for domestic poultry which would go a long way to solving the problem. So my question would be why has this not been done until very recently? Too little too late perhaps. No one seems to have asked the experts this question.
Tom Yarrow MRCVS, London, UK

If Tamiflu and Relenza are considered to be at least partially effective, then pressure should be applied on the patent owners of these drugs to allow third-party production. The government should then allow non-prescription purchase of these drugs, through chemists, while the threat of a pandemic exists.

At least then the general population would be on the same footing as those that have personal access to these drugs through the NHS, as was clear from the comments made by the expert panel. This would also relieve the pressure on the government purchased stockpile and reduce any civil unrest that might occur due to rationing.
Clive Monk, Hertford, UK

Please put Prof. John Oxford in charge of Flu epidemic plans; he has the sharpest intelligence and forward thinking needed.

A shot of some vaccine, is better than none, he says. Quite right; preparation for September 2006 is too late, other plans have to be made now.
Sylvia Kingsley, Watford, Herts

I get the feeling that being determined to keep bird flu in perspective is equivalent to burying my head in the sand
Rosemary Cooper, Montgomery, Wales
Is bird flu in Vietnam and it's threat to the rest of the world yet another problem which has been created by man's disregard for the planet and everything that shares it with us? The way birds and animals are treated and the conditions in which they are kept, the only surprise is that such a threat hasn't arisen sooner.
Catherine Bates, Dundee, Scotland

Programmes like this create the impression that migrant birds from Asia are going to spread bird flu all over the UK. I have been an ornithologist all my life and I am well aware that, where I live, all the migrant birds come from Africa and Scandinavia, not Asia. The same is true in most other places as well. Media coverage makes me really angry when it omits facts like this.

I intend to keep chickens, and have the assurance of a vet that they do not pose a risk. I have also sought guidance from DEFRA and can house my birds indoors if necessary, out of contact from the healthy wild birds in the neighbourhood. I strongly object to unbalanced coverage that is likely to panic my neighbours into imagining my birds are a health risk.

Yet after watching this programme, I get the feeling that being determined to keep bird flu in perspective is equivalent to burying my head in the sand. Actually it is a much lesser danger than speeding motorists, but they don't make news. How much of the less sensational information did you miss out?
Rosemary Cooper, Montgomery, Wales.

As a bird fancier whose hobby has been devastated by the recent mass hysteria surronding this bird flu story, I was amazed at the programme this evening. It was well balanced and we did not have to suffer yet again the propaganda from those who have hidden agendas via support for animal rights organizations.

It seems to me that there is more chance of a human bringing in this virus from abroad than an actual bird being responsible. Is it government policy for all of those going to and from the far east to be vacinated for this known virus, and if not then why not? Birds are quarantined and tested. Surely common sense tells us that people who have contact with contaminated areas should also come under certain scrutiny.
James Burns, Irvine, Scotland




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