The Osterholm Quotes

"It [another flu pandemic] will happen. It's like earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis — they happen. It might be 20, 40, 60 years, but they happen. And so an investment in a flu vaccine right now that could actually take pandemic flu off the table would rival anything we did with eradicating smallpox."
"We're talking about billions of dollars [to produce a game-changing "universal" flu vaccine], and there has to be a business proposition meaning that companies are going to take this and move forward. Just building one plant to make flu vaccine is in the many, many hundreds of millions of dollars."
"We could have an Ebola-prepared Africa, where the vaccine is really promoted among health-care workers, emergency responders and burial workers and we could pre-deploy it."
"Influenza research today is a humbling experience. The more we learn the less we understand."
"All it would take is one or two of these infected individuals to go into a larger metropolitan area . . . Kinshasa is a gas tanker waiting for a match to hit it."
"I don't know what the virus will do. But history tells us that influenza comes back and comes back and comes back."
"It's a whole different world today. We can't deliver public health like we did 20, 30, 40 years ago. Public health is a never-ending investment need."
"A pandemic would be the least of our problems; it would be all the collateral damage we'd have to deal with, and we're doing nothing, we're doing nothing."
"The good news is, for all intents and purposes, the [E coli] outbreak is over. The lettuce that was harvested looks like it came from a single farm and was harvested between March 5 and the 16th. Typically these products have about a 21-day shelf life, so what we're really picking up here is not ongoing transmission to new people but cases that are now only being detected by the public health system."
"It's gratifying to see many parties now talking about the need for a game-changing influenza vaccine—we've come a long way in this discussion. [But] just $10 million here and $10 million there is not going to do it."
"It's a broken system that we have to fix and we have only had marginal improvement. We've got to stop all this happy talk. We have to illustrate the problems … instead of just congratulating ourselves for what we accomplished."
"Pandemics are worldwide epidemics, and two diseases today that have the potential to become a worldwide outbreak overnight are influenza and antimicrobial resistance — not a single big outbreak, but a growing collection of serious challenges. With antibiotic resistance growing, we are entering a post-antibiotic era."
"The public has a whole new understanding of science, data, facts, and fake news. We've surely had an anti-science movement well before the current situation, but it's never been as acute."
"The whole issue of prions and meat consumption is a new and much more serious topic we need to look at. Even though there's no evidence that there is transmission [from camels], the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
"They can do everything perfect in terms of food and safety and overall ship hygiene, but the problem is, if someone comes on board with norovirus at the beginning of the trip, it's very possible in that closed environment that there'll be transmission to other passengers as well as staff."
"This [antimicrobial resistance] isn't an acute crisis where a wave just hits you. But we see these rare cases of resistance in remote areas of the world, and within a year or two, it’s everywhere."
"[Funding for a game-changing flu vaccine] is really about national security. The infectious diseases are against all of us. And this is one where we really, as a global community, need to come together and say, what is it that we need to do that is necessary to hold off, if not get the upper hand against these microbes?"
"The ultimate goal is this game-changing flu vaccine which would make seasonal flu vaccine obsolete. There is a hell of a challenge getting people vaccinated every year. We are realizing vaccine user fatigue that comes with that. We see rates of vaccine use going down, not up."
"The principles of making horsepox virus are not different [from smallpox]. Do you want to lay out a roadmap for the bad guys? The work in Canada [by Evans] is virtually a road map. Now almost every Tom, Dick, and Harry can do it."
"We've got to do what we can with what we have. But we can't be lulled into a false sense of security that what we have is what we need."
"[The flu vaccine is] causing actually almost an erosion of confidence in vaccines as opposed to increasing confidence. … If you look at over the past five years, the number of people being vaccinated has actually leveled off or in some groups actually decreased. And that's because I think people are really confused about this vaccine and what it does."
"I don’t think we're that close at all [in developing a game-changing universal flu vaccine]. I think the kind of work that's gone on has been critical and important, but it's only the first 5 feet of what would need to be a 100-foot rope."
"Pandemic influenza is going to continue. It's one of those things that when it happens, whatever we have for tools, that's it."
"Seasonal flu is bad, but this is not that unusual. When a totally new flu strain emerges in the human population, that's when we really have a problem."
"We live in a global just-in-time economy. A pandemic could put a screeching halt to that. [Aviation] is really a very accelerated way to move the virus that's unprecedented in human history."


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