Swine flu- what pandemic?

Early this month Nicola Roxon, the federal minister for health declared the swine flu pandemic over leaving millions of doses of the swine flu vaccine laying waste. According to a health department spokesperson 7.8 million doses are available for use until December 31, after which time the vaccine will have exceeded its use by date.

In April 2009, alarming reports of an outbreak of deadly swine flu in Mexico and the United States were being broadcast around the world. The director- general of the World Health Organisation, Margaret Chan announced that the world was standing at the brink of a pandemic; an epidemic that occurs throughout a region or even throughout the world.

Joining the media hysteria was the Herald Sun claiming that the state of Victoria was struggling to contain the pig flu outbreak. Terror of disease and imminent death struck the populace and ambulance staff and others showing signs of the flu were forced to wear masks. Thermal scanners were installed at airports to screen passengers with high temperatures and quarantining lead to stories about families who sneeze together also squeeze together. At one stage there were more than 3500 Victorians in quarantine, either suffering swine flu or said to be potentially carrying the virus.

Soon more draconian recommendations were being contemplated including the threat of mass influenza vaccination. Australia bought twenty-one million doses of the vaccine at a cost of around $130 million. Just two months later it was clear to the experts that the pandemic hadn’t happened and only 9 million of the 21 doses of vaccine had been distributed.

As Adam Cresswell wrote in the Australian newspaper it was “the pandemic that never was”

The Australian death rate from swine flu was 0.9 per 100,000, or 0.01 per cent and by the end of 2009 had caused just 191 deaths in Australia.

A damning report by the Council of Europe found that by January 2010 fewer than 5000 Britons had been infected by swine flu, with the death toll 360.

Peter Collignon, professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University and a prominent critic of the pandemic flu responses, said that it was now clear that the health authorities had over reacted. Another acclaimed Australian expert, Chris Del Mar, professor of primary care research at Bond University, claimed that the global agency “called it too soon”. He said that national governments had little choice but to throw all available resources at fighting the disease, once the World Health Organisation had declared the pandemic under way. “There’s a funny smell coming from the WHO in many respects.”

At a public hearing in Strasbourg, Wolfgang Wodarg a German epidemiologist-turned-MP, told the audience that around $18 billion had been spent on the pandemic worldwide and that millions were vaccinated “for no good reason.” According to Wodarg, “The definition of a pandemic was changed by the WHO last May. It was only this change of definition which made it possible to transform a run-of-the-mill flu into a worldwide pandemic – and made it possible for the pharmaceutical industry to transform this opportunity into cash, under contracts which were mainly secret.”

The names of members of the WHO’s emergency committee were kept a secret during the swine flu ‘pandemic’ but we now know that many panel members had connections to drug companies and the vaccine industry. One of the committee members was Arnold Monto who had received thousands of dollars from pharmaceutical giant Glaxo SmithKline which produces Rilenza, the anti viral drug and also a range of vaccines. Nancy Cox, a panel member from the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, admitted to receiving financial support from the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) for flu vaccine research. The outbreak of swine flu was turned into a pandemic by people who were in bed with the pharmaceutical industry.

The World Heath Organization was now faced with the problem of what to do with all those millions of wasted H1N1 vaccines. One of the ways to get around this problem is to include the swine flu vaccine in the annual flu jabs. This action has been taken despite the fact that the vaccine was rapidly manufactured, and has never been properly tested and also contains a mercury-based preservative, thiomersal. Last year, workers who were vaccinated reported having headaches, sleeplessness and stomach cramps.

Flu shots usually have questionable benefits and the risk of harmful side effects. However, the decision to include the H1N1 vaccine will pose even greater risks to large numbers of vulnerable people – including the elderly, children, and those with heart disease, chest problems, and diabetes.

Professor Chris Del Mar sums up the overreaction of health authorities and governments:

“With the wisdom of hindsight, it’s easy to see that the drugs used weren’t so useful, and the vaccine isn’t so useful. They didn’t spend enough time promoting the things we know are effective: wearing masks, gloves and handwashing.”

But nothing really goes to waste with reports that much of the surplice of unwanted, unneeded and untested doses of the swine flu vaccine has been to delivered to about a dozen countries in Africa. This is despite the very low occurrences of the disease there. In fact, the WHO regional office for Africa reported only 157 cases of Swine Flu by the end of July 2009, compared to the 87000 cases reported by their American office.

Next time the media goes crazy over a new flu or other disease remember the story about the swine flu pandemic that wasn’t.

Categories: Media and health

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