Fire drills are conducted to know what it will be like in an actual fire incident. The main objective of fire drills are to asses how fast can people evacuate the buildings safely, if ever they catch fire.

I think the swine flu virus is just like that. It is not as deadly as the Ebola Zaire, which are known cause 90% fatalities, nor as resilient as HIV, but the fact that it is a flu virus makes it as valuable as a fire drill - a life saving drill . We now know how fast a flu or at least a flu-like virus can be transmitted. In Canada earlier this month, 265 cases have been reported in just 72 hours. Cases have been confirmed for 75 countries world wide. And here in the Philippines, cases rose to 193.

I have read "Hot Zone" by Richard Preston. The non-fiction novel describes the quest for the geographical source of the Ebola Virus and later in the novel, he narrated what had happened in the spread of Ebola Reston virus among monkeys in Reston, Virginia.

Ebola Reston was found to have low pathogenicity to humans, however, among monkeys, it appears that transmission is through air - just like the swine flu virus. Low pathogenicity does not mean that it could not be transmitted to humans . Three of the animal handlers in the Reston monkey house are tested positive although none of them developed symptoms.

What is so alarming with Ebola Reston is that it infects monkeys, human's close evolutionary relatives. The virus may not recognize the difference between monkey's body or a human body to thrive on. It may be practically thesame environment for the virus. Who knows, a little twitch on the virus' protein sequence may prove lethal to humans.

Perhaps swine flu's low fatality rate is not to be complacent about. This is a chance to know how to mitigate the spread of viruses that spread through airborn droplets (sneezing and coughing). And like a fire drill, it is our chance to evaluate how soon enough we can say that we are safe.

A drill we have to be very serious about.