Some of those countries “have had sustained community transmission of a substantial sort,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University professor and longtime adviser to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Put that together, that spells pandemic.”
According to estimates from the US Department of Health and Human Services that means even with a moderate outbreak, 200,000 people in the United States will need intensive care. The United States has less than 100,000 ICU beds. In a moderate pandemic, 64,000 people are projected to need mechanical ventilation — breathing machines. The United States is estimated to have only about 62,000 full featured ventilators on hand and an additional 8,900 in the national stockpiled. Given that this is flu season, many of those are already in use. Shifting the dialogue toward pandemic preparedness means we should more directly and completely address these shortfalls.