As I work through my research on Addressable Advertising via RFID, an interesting twist has come to light that could argue ‘why’ allow yourself to be chipped at all, and that is in the fact you may be forced into a situation where you feel you have no choice – that is a scenario in which a pandemic occurs.

It must have been 1991 when a friend of mine who had been looking through some military testings on a scanner-readable tag. It was surrounding a unique bio-code that was created by an injection that altered skin-cell reactions at on deeper tissue, effectively darkening some cells, to create a totally unique pattern to each individual that would be invisible with the naked eye but able to be read by a scanner. At the time I had no idea what such concept would be useful for. His reply startled me, ‘to identify those who have been administered an antidote in times of a pandemic – and potentially linked to commerce.’ His argument was that food allocation could be limited to those who had been administered a vaccine to help prevent further spread of disease.

We are now living in a time when the first pandemic since 1968 Hong-Kong flu is upon us, and suddenly his foresight may well becoming true.

The Florida-based company VeriChip Corporation, already boasts the world’s first and only federally approved human-implantable radio microchip. It is a small glass vial about the size of a grain of rice and is inserted under-the-skin and contains a number computer-linked to a person’s medical records, enabling doctors via a reader to access the information even if the patient is unconscious or unidentified. It is the only such implant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Last week, Scott R. Silverman, chairman of VeriChip, launched a new variant of his company at ID World International Congress in Milan, Italy, to detect ‘bio-threats’ as VeriChip looks beyond patient identification to diagnostic and sensor applications. It is working with Minnesota company Receptors LLC, to develop virus-detection technology that can automatically detect in a host’s bloodstream the presence of H1N1 swine flu, the H5N1 bird flu virus, or other pandemic agents or viruses deemed a bio-threat to assist in emergency preparedness.

According to VeriChip’s press release, the company’s concept is to transform existing “in vivo” – meaning implanted inside a living organism – glucose-sensing technology into a ‘virus triage detection system for the H1N1 virus,’ i.e. a microchip that can alert others of the virus’ presence.

“As we continue to build on our partnership with Receptors, which started with the development of a glucose-sensing RFID implantable microchip, we are moving beyond patient identification to sensors that can detect and identify illnesses and viruses such as influenza,” said Scott R. Silverman, chairman of VeriChip, in a statement. “This is an exciting next step for the future of our healthcare division.”

According to Reuters, Shares of VeriChip Corp CHIP.O tripled after the company said it had been granted an exclusive license to two patents. It’s worth noting that tracking human’s via RFID has already several patents, such as those held by IBM.

“The triage system will provide multiple levels of identification – the first will identify the agent as virus or non-virus, the second level will classify the virus and alert the user to the presence of pandemic threat viruses and the third level will identify the precise pathogen, VeriChip said in a white paper ‘An Integrated Sensor System for the Detection of Bio-Threats from Pandemics to Emerging Diseases to Bio-Terrorism,’ published May 7, 2009.”

The company had already seen an interest surge on it’s VeriTrace technology following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, where it was used by the Federal Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team. In this scenario the microchips are implanted in human remains, effectively ‘duct-taped to bones’, in order to maintain detailed records of fatalities.

The problem with existing RFID chips is that they often ‘lack-the-brains’ as seen with micro-computers, as they only transmit fixed data back to a reader device. Sensors are one aspect of addressing this, the other is advancements in CRFID’s or ‘computational’ RFID tags that are under development in MIT.

We are already seeing other variants of this technology in terms of printed electronic boards, as seen Xerox’s Silver Ink which will herald in an era of wearable electronics. Or in the case of a concept my friend and I discussed some years ago, invisible ink as shown in Somark’s chipless RFID ink tattoo, already used in animal tracking and identification.

As terrifying as pandemics are, I also took the liberty of investigating quite where HIN1 is at this current stage of global penetration. I feel the media has unduly over-hyped this current H1N1 situation as my own illness passed with relatively mild affects and so any discussion of chipping people – by choice or force – needs to be seen in light of facts of the illness.

Here is what I have found;

  • All mammals and birds are susceptible to Influenza – it’s an airborne virus.
  • Each year new strains are discovered. Cross-species jumps pose most risk.
  • Hundreds of thousands of people die each year from the seasonal ‘flu’
    • According to World Health Organisation (WHO) ‘Annual influenza epidemics are estimated to affect 5–15% of the global population. Although most cases are mild, these epidemics still cause severe illness in 3–5 million people and 250,000–500,000 deaths worldwide.’
  • WHO said H1N1 swine flu was pandemic after only 30,000 cases had been reported globally. (June 11, 2009)
  • However 41,400 (avg) die per year in the US alone every year from the normal flu – and this is consistent since 1979.
  • Current H1N1 WHO status is based on spread NOT severity – it was precautionary as young people had been affected around the world.
  • A pandemic means level raised to millions of deaths, not the normal 100,000’s
  • H1N1 has been repsonsible for only 6,768 deaths globally to date – not millions or even hundreds of thousands, not even ten… 6,768!
    • That’s much worse than average CTR! ;-)
  • H1N1 (avian/pig) are only a fraction of mutations that make up Influneza virus.
  • You stand more chance of catching and being fatally ill from normal flu then swine flu.
  • It would seem normal flu is at least 100x more prolific and fatal then swine flu H1N1 – shown in the global data.
  • People who take vaccine are having stronger flu symptoms and worse side-effects then those who don’t.
    • Most swine flu symptoms are mild and last only a few days without treatment – WHO does not recommend TamiFlu for normal healthy people with mild symptoms.
  • It is normal flu we need to be more wary of and industry reactions should be 100x that of swine flu reactions – not the other way around – it’s out of balance.

Don’t take my word for it – or the media’s – do your own research. After all, its as easy as clicking on on some of those links above…

… so can we all stop panicking now and have a nice week please?! ;-)

Final trivia question: In thinking through vaccines, why would something with such bad press from 1960’s be useful on a new strain only announced at start of 2009? Hmmm… How long does it take to get medical tests done? (Clue: no. of years)

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