Archive for the ‘flu pandemic hysteria’ Category

Flu: Epidemic or Shamdemic

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

The PharmaTimes  reported Jan.4 that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) is to hold an emergency debate and inquiry into the “influence” exerted by the pharmaceutical industry on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global H1N1 flu campaign. Was the swine flu epidemic, predicted in many quarters as a”pandemic” a fake from round one? Did WHO cave in to pressure from the drug industry? Nothing new about that-see my newsletter  referring to the 1980’s when the organization expanded its attention to include noncommunicable diseases.Today WHO takes in more than $500 million a year, …money coming primarily from drug companies whose fortunes are intimately connected to its donations.” Along with others, Dr. Paul Rosch in his excellent Newsletter of the American Institute of Stress warned about pandemic flu hysteria early last spring.

The text of the resolution approved by the Assembly calling for the inquiry states that: “In order to promote their patented drugs and vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies influenced scientists and official agencies responsible for public health standards to alarm governments worldwide and make them squander tight health resources for inefficient vaccine strategies, and needlessly expose millions of healthy people to the risk of an unknown amount of side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines.”

The WHO’s “false pandemic” flu campaign is “one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century,” according to Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, chairman of the PACE Health Committee, who introduced the parliamentary motion. “The definition of an alarming pandemic must not be under the influence of drug-sellers,” he added.

Read the rest of this excellent summary by Lynne Taylor  who summarizes how the “false pandemic” campaign began last May in Mexico City when inaccurate or false reporting of normal influenza cases helped WHO “in cooperation with some big pharmaceutical companies redefine 100 or so cases and thus declared them to represent the onset of a threatening new pandemic, although there was little scientific evidence for this.

“These new standards forced politicians in most states to react immediately and sign marketing commitments for additional and new vaccines against swine flu, through ‘sealed contracts’ under which orders are secured in advance and governments take almost all responsibility. In this way, the producers of vaccines are sure of enormous gains without having any financial risks.”

Before the end of this month, Jan.2010, an emergency debate was promised to assess the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on WHO. Wodarg announced that 47 parliaments all over Europe are going to be informed, adding that,”Following this, we will initiate an investigation and hearings involving those responsible for the pandemic emergency. The aim is that none of the pharmaceutical companies under any circumstances must be allowed to make their influence felt on pandemic emergencies.”

Flu Hysteria

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

The 2009 outbreak in humans of a new flu strain, genetically related to Swine flu, though it has not been isolated in pigs, is probably a mosaic of swine, bird, and human flu viruses, but is actually of unknown origin. Thus, the very name is misleading since the disease cannot be transmitted by eating pork. Yet the Egyptian Government has destroyed perhaps 300,000 animals (a political ploy against Coptic Christians?), and Russia used the flu panic to ban pork imports from Spain and Canada. Moreover, U.S. immigration phobics see the “Mexican flu” as a fresh reason to argue for a wall along the border-even though the first case was probably seen in this county! Then too our panicky V.P unwittingly made the case against travel by Amtrak.

This strain transmitted from human to human, appears in most cases so far to resemble the usual yearly flu, being  clinically mild, with exceedingly low mortality. Haunted by memories of the 1918-19 pandemic when 50-100 million died world wide, sensational media coverage erupted along with excessive or inappropriate warnings by some  health authorities, and governments, and even the World Health Organization (WHO).  We are presently awash in hysteria, even now as this particular epidemic cases appears to be in decline.

You may recall  those terrifying forecasts during the avian flu panic of 2005 (deaths to date: 257, according to the World Health Organization) and the SARS panic of 2002-2003 (774 deaths). By contrast, garden-variety flu typically kill upwards of 36,000 Americans a year.

A recent article in The Times of London notes that in 1919 precautions included mustard baths, Bovril (a meat extract), gargling with salt water, and especially port wine.

As noted in the Wall Street Journal, there are no longer “… several million exhausted… (soldiers) living in filthy conditions and close quarters along two sides of a 450-mile (war) front. Or troops and sailors being moved in crowded trains and ships, or being treated in overcrowded hospitals. And at least in Western cities, it is no longer typically five-to-a-room in squalid tenement housing.” As science writer Wendy Orent has pointed out in the New Republic, “Only the precise conditions of World War I’s Western Front — a true disease factory — could have created a flu as virulent as the one responsible for the 1918 pandemic.”

No one can predict, of course whether a more virulent strain of flu may evolve in the fall, causing another epidemic with more severe clinical consequences. We will have to watch what develops in South America in the next few weeks, since this is a harbinger of a possible second wave that usually strikes in the colder months in the northern hemisphere.

But as to a pandemic, WHO almost had it dangerously wrong when Dr. Chan, its Director General  threatened to go to “category 6.” As Dr. Henry I. Miller, an epidemiologist, noted in a letter to the New York Times,“a warning system based solely on how widely a virus has spread, but that does not consider the nature of the illness it causes is intrinsically flawed…it would classify as “pandemics” the frequent but largely inconsequential outbreaks of virus-caused colds and gastroenteritis.”

Yes, epidemic flu may yet turn out to be a significant problem this year, as indeed it had been in 1957, 1968 and numerous other times in history. But another 1918?  Highly unlikely in this day and age. All we can do is assess the risks, be ready for surprises, and stay calm in a world that has always been full of uncertainty.