New Scientist says Travel Bans don’t work for flu

An interesting article today from New Scientist on why Travel Bans don’t work to prevent the spread of a pandemic.

“There is no real sense in applying strict travel restrictions especially at this stage. It’s not going to help,” says Alessandro Vespignani, a computer scientist at the University of Indiana in Bloomington, whose team is also trying to predict the spread of the current outbreak.

The World Health Organization’s Emergency Committee also took this position at a meeting on Monday: “WHO does not recommend closing of borders and does not recommend restriction of travel,” said Keiji Fukuda, assistant director general for health security and environment.

Modellers have also attempted to measure the economic cost of widespread travel bans in response to pandemic flu. In 2007, a team led by Joshua Epstein of the Brookings Institution in New York estimated that a 95 per cent reduction in air travel in the US could cost about $100 billion per year, or a little less than 1 per cent of the US gross national product (PLoS-ONE, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0000401 ).

“In this situation, things are definitely not bad enough to warrant the economic impacts [travel limits] are going to have,” Brownstein says.

Go to the original article, it has some great sub links as well.

Don’t panic about this flu, it’s not serious yet, it’s just the flu!