Approximately 46 million turkeys were eaten in homes across America on Thanksgiving. Yet that number isn’t worth a flock compared to the 5.2 billion birds China plans to vaccinate with avian flu shots.
In attempts to prevent a human pandemic caused by the spread of bird flu, China will administer the shot to all chickens, geese, turkeys and ducks that remain in the country. It will be the largest vaccination effort for any species ever: 5.2 billion birds.
The numbers that this project concerns creates many obstacles. Three-fifths of China’s poultry are owned by farm-owning families. Considering the geographical vastness of China and the fact that each bird must be injected one by one, the door-to-door vaccination method and the number of birds that exist will take this task an undeterminable amount of time to be completed. The vaccinators have their work cut out for them as it is, needing to hunt down the other two-fifths of the poultry population: free-range birds.
With more than 5 billion feathered patients requiring medical attention, it seems that the cost will be astronomical. This, however, is the one aspect China can handle. Each vaccination costs 10 American cents to produce. Five billion doses will set China back the equivalent of $500 million.
In addition, since China’s Agriculture Ministry produces the vaccine at a rate of 100 million doses per day, it will only take 50 days to complete the order.
Fifty days and $500 million to begin this vaccination process is encouragingly plausible. It is the act itself that is the real trick. How does a country undergo vaccinating five billion birds, both owned and wild? Regarding the wild ones, the first obstacle that comes to mind is knowing which ones have yet to be vaccinated. As for the farm-owned feathers, the cooperation of all Chinese landowners will be crucial to the success of this project.
An undergoing with such fantastic proportions such as this creates much justified speculation over its level of success. In theory, a completely successful vaccination of all China’s poultry could nearly eradicate the avian virus. But the plan of tracking down every living bird in China, one of the largest bodies of land in the world, seems a bit flighty.
China consumes 14 billion domestically-grown poultry each year. Maybe the country’s manpower should focus on increasing the number of birds consumed. That way all supposedly infected birds will be eaten, thus eliminating the avian flu problem altogether and relieving China of their excess fowl population.
Now that would be killing two birds with one stone.