Martin W

from correspondent re point 4 in above post:

Perhaps I understand the background more correctly. The asteroid
impact threat was not a final target of the study, but it was more
important that the same research tools (wide-field automated telescopes
and pipeline analysis) can be applied to different targets of
academic interest. They will not be very appealing (at least for
the beginning) to the public. The NASA people needed a different,
more popular target in pursuit of their original scientific interest.
These telescopes are now being used to rapid follow-up observations of
gamma-ray bursts, recovery of dead comets, and other targets of current
popular astronomy problems. The “blue book” of the Hubble Space
Telescope was similar, but produced far greater results than originally

I don’t know whether influenza specialists are taking the similar
course, or they regard pandemic a real, foreseeable threat. But
as far as I read, top virologists look like to have been more
deliberate, and have warned the public against alarmism. I think
that these people regard it a real threat, and urge governments
to prepare for the “upper limit” disaster. They probably think it
insufficient to prepare for the “expected mean” (as might be derived
from evolutionary biology).