Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Scientist Editorial: Just do the swine flu tests

03 June 2009
Magazine issue 2711.

GREEK doctors and flu scientists are saying what New Scientist revealed two weeks ago: swine flu could be spreading round Europe undetected because people without known links to flu aren't being tested (see "Europe should test more broadly for swine flu").

Maybe countries worry that if they test, they'll be forced to use precious antiviral medicines on a mild strain. Maybe they just want this virus to spread quietly, so people will become immune to its successors. 

Maybe a basic understanding of epidemiology is lacking, though that seems unlikely.

But we know one thing: the only item of faith you need in science is that it's better to know than not to know. If Europe's leaders want everyone's trust - trust they will need if this virus really does go global - it should emulate Australia, and do the tests.

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