The Osterholm Quotes

"It [H5N2 avian flu] could be just acting like any other highly pathogenic virus we see, with wind-driven virus transmission. It just hasn't been stopped by the current level of biosecurity."
"We've only been able to culture viruses for 80 years. But if you look at the sampling that's been done from the 1950s onward, there are more flu viruses in animals than we've seen in the past."
"We have immense challenges before us. . . . I liken it to a swimmer in a calm lake who can cover 12 miles in 6 hours. Put that same swimmer in a river heading upstream against a 4-mph current. . . . After 3 hours he ends up 6 miles downstream from where he started. . . . We are not swimming in a calm lake. "
"We know the circumference of the world hasn't changed. . . . On the other hand, the world is much larger and smaller at the same time. It's larger in terms of population . . . it's smaller in that modern transportation has made oceans, mountain ranges, and international borders irrelevant to the spread of infectious agents."
"We're now stretched so thin with the available resources to even respond to the number of birds that are infected in the poultry industry that I'm not sure we're getting the kind of information we need right now to understand this situation."
"We have a lot of work to do to figure out really what it is that we know and don't know, and be humble enough to accept that we don't know. What motivated people not to get vaccinated, and who are they?"
"There's actually been some recent data showing that the more comprehensive and potentially punitive your efforts are to get people vaccinated, the more people reject and fight it and do whatever they can to get around it."
"International [immunization] programs are so important; it's not just the direct benefits to those countries around the world, but it's an indirect benefit to us . . . There's a vaccine protection halo that we benefit from when we protect those in other countries."
"The global health response system is broken . . . What happens if MERS blows up or there's an Ebola-like event in East Africa? I'm not sure WHO has a plan for that."
"That's like saying you don't want to call the fire department because you're afraid the trucks will create a disturbance."
"The one thing we can do to truly take all of this [the pandemic threat of avian flu strains] off the table is the development of a truly game-changing flu vaccine. We have no machinery set up globally to do that, none."
"There was almost a rush to [assure] the public that we knew a lot more than we did. But we're saying you can't rule out respiratory transmission."
"You can't just replace an interstate overpass overnight because somebody wants to do it. It still takes [time]."
"We think that we are able to bring a slightly different perspective that is complementary to what's going on."
"This is the tool that will provide the ultimate public health lever needed to address Ebola today and in the future."
"We ran smack into a culture vs. a science issue . . . so we're laying out a course of how to not have that happen with vaccine."
"Lack of immunization due to low socioeconomic status, lack of access to health care—those still all pose real challenges . . . [but when parents who are educated and wealthy opt out of vaccines] that to me is a real growing problem."
"If you have a group of people who are not vaccinated, if that virus gets in there . . . it will find you."
"We are really moving more and more toward a future generation that will live in a post-antibiotic era. Business as usual is not going to work."
"Public Health has to not only reassure the public, it has to tell the truth."
"[The US military has] done an amazing job. No one does logistics quite like the military. Our country was slow to respond, but now I am proud . . . [No other country] has responded quite the way the US has."
"When you have so few [Ebola] cases, it gets very hard to show that vaccines work."
"What we really need is a new [influenza] vaccine. What we’re doing is tinkering—but I don't know how to tinker with this current vaccine and make it any better. It's like we're trying to fix a horse and buggy when what we really need is a modern 2015 vehicle."
"This should be another clarion call for why we need new and better flu vaccines. Twenty percent clearly is better than zero, but it's a long way from what we need and must eventually have."
"Think of this epidemic [Ebola] as a big forest fire . . . you have to suppress all of it or it will come back."


Newsletter Sign-up

Get CIDRAP news and other free newsletters.

Sign up now»


Unrestricted financial support provided by

Bentson Foundation 3MGilead Become an underwriter»