Health Secretary Andrew Lansley laughed off claims that the government was shockingly unprepared to cause the necessary levels of panic this summer, hinting that advisers were close to deciding which animal might be the source of the virus which would almost certainly kill everyone on the planet by Christmas.
Keen to improve on the fear caused by previous campaigns such as 2009's classic “Swine Flu will kill 2 million,” Lansley is currently keeping his cards close to his chest. However experts point to a number of early candidates, any of which could yet be the catalyst that petrifies otherwise healthy people into demanding a miracle cure to a disease they probably haven't got and that won't kill them anyway.
“If you look around, the clues are there” said the BBC’s science correspondent Jonathan Amos. “North America’s got white-nose syndrome in bats and you’ve got badger TB in this country. But my money is on the Schmallenberg sheep virus – if Lansley can just find a farmer with an infected sheep who then dies of a pre-existing medical condition, well you’ve got your winner.”
Mr Lansley has been holding regular meetings with Glaxo-Smithkline, who are contracted to treat the UK’s medical hysteria, to ensure an insufficient amount of anti-viral drugs will be available for distribution in a chaotic and haphazard manner.
Meanwhile Francis Maude is believed to be drafting a set of bafflingly contradictory instructions which should result in nothing more than a few exploding garages.