Anorak News | A Wing And A Prayer

A Wing And A Prayer

by | 17th, October 2005

‘“BIRD FLU WILL HIT BRITAIN AND KILL 50,000,” promises the front page of the Mail. It’s the chief medial officer’s “chilling prediction”.

‘Add some more curry sauce and they’ll never taste the difference’

Sir Liam Donaldson says it’s “inevitable” infected birds will arrive in the UK and the deadly virus will, as the Mail says, start “jumping from person to person”.

“We can’t make this pandemic go away, it’s a natural phenomenon,” says Donaldson. “What we can do is limit the impact.”

But surely we can do more than that? We saw off Sars, Hitler, anthrax and mad cow disease, so why not this flu?

Not a hope, says the Mail’s Geoffrey Lean. “Bird flu’s deadly knock is at our very door,” says he. And for it we can blame the Government.

How? Is the flu the result of lax border security? Are birds piling over from the continent like so many illegal Chinese workers?

This is the “greatest threat to public health since the Black Death,” writes Lean, overlooking cholera, Spanish flu, Asian flu, Hong Kong flu, MRSA superbugs and more.

This news of a Black Death-style plague on the way makes for exciting copy. And if you can somehow link the arrival of bird plague to the Government’s “increasing bureaucracy” and “an obsession with targets” in the NHS, as Lean does, then so much the better.

But not everyone is so sure we’re doomed. While the Mail adopts a siege mentality and employs hacks to shoot anything that moves, the Sun says: “Don’t panic.”

We’ve heard it all before. Bird flu might well hit Britain, but don’t you remember how we were all about to die from Sars, anthrax attacks and mad cow disease?

The Sun does, and it says that by the time the infected birds arrive next winter the Government will have had an entire year to get the vaccine ready.

It’ll be fine. You’ll be fine – unless you read the Mirror. The paper has gazed into its crystal ball and seen what lies ahead.

“It’s winter 2006,” it writes, “and everyone is scared… thousands have died… schools are closed… the streets are deserted… planes are grounded… as pandemic savages Britain.”

The paper goes on to talk of “makeshift cemeteries” to deal with the rising toll of the dead. Children are becoming malnourished as animal produce, like turkey twizzlers, cheese slices and chicken nuggets are banned.

“The country is under something akin to martial law” and “all large gatherings have been banned by Government order.”

Reading that lot you’d imagine Tony Blair billing and cooing at this bedroom window and blowing on a duck whistle to get the birds here pronto.

Who needs Jamie Oliver and ID cards when an infected goose can do the job for you..?’

Posted: 17th, October 2005 | In: Tabloids Comment | TrackBack | Permalink