A pharmaceutical executive advises Missouri businesses that they need to prepare now for any flu pandemic.
Hoffman-La Roche Chief Executive Officer George Abercrombie says the flu strain H5N1 , known as Avian Influenza or Bird Flu, could mutate to cause the next pandemic. Abercrombie says Bird Flu ripped through Southeast Asia, triggering a horrific 60% death rate.
"So this would be something that none of us have ever experienced in our lifetimes," Abercrombie tells the Missourinet in a telephone interview.
Abercrombie says world health officials believe it’s not a matter of if a flu pandemic will hit, but when will it hit.
He says his message to St. Louis business executives is the same message he is giving nearly everywhere he travels.
"The time to plan is now," Abercrombie says.
It is too late to put a plan together after an infected patient lands on a plane at Lambert Field in St. Louis of Kansas City International Airport or any other of the airports in Missouri. Abercrombie says the time to plan is before the virus mutates.
Abercrombie’s firm, Roche, manufactures Tamiflu. Abercrombie says businesses don’t have to necessarily stock up on Tamiflu, but should have enough vaccine on hand to cover about a quarter of their employees. He says a pandemic can wipe out 40% of the workforce.
For more information on preparation for a pandemic, go to pandemictoolkit.com .