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Thursday, March 1st 2007

Open It To The Public

I’d have my money if this sort of morbid test of opinions on avian flu was open to the public.

In an unusual effort to better predict the advance of a potential flu pandemic, public health experts will be staked about $100 apiece to bet on the spread of bird flu. This type of grim futures market has also been created to predict hurricanes and temporarily, a few years ago, terrorist attacks.

In this case, the goal is to develop a faster way to collect expert opinion about the potential spread of a deadly disease outbreak.

“Farmers have used futures markets for decades to make decisions about what crops to plant. We’re just borrowing that concept to help people in public health and health care make decisions about the future,” said Dr. Phil Polgreen, a University of Iowa assistant professor of medicine who helped create the project.

The actual prediction isn’t on whether bird flu will be the next great pandemic or when that will happen, but if merely a habitant of Hong Kong will be diagnosed with avian influenza by July 1st of this year. Kind’ve boring, and I suppose something I have less of an opinion on than bird flu’s worldwide, long term threat.