There is a lot of information in the media about swine flu. To the point of overwhelming. Although not expressly untrue, many facts are lacking and worst of all, the information is presented grossly out of context. Presenting facts selectively, and using a loaded message to produce an emotional rather than rational response spells propaganda.
Wolf-Dieter Ludwig, chairman of the German Medical Association’s drug commission, stated: “The health authorities have succumbed to a campaign by the pharma companies, which simply want to earn money from a supposed threat.”
While Mr Obama seems to think that emergency rules will make it easier to handle anticipated surge in patients. Yes, after all that fear mongering, people are lining up for the jab. As a result, the swine flu panic is sweeping the world.
Unfortunately, the biggest casualty of this corporate driven, politically supported, media-manufactured hysteria is – common sense.
Having sold billions of dollars worth of anti-flu drugs to the governments around the world, it’s clear the swine flu pandemic has been good news for the pharmaceuticals industry.
But, did you also know that Baxter, the US pharmaceutical giant, had been accused of fraud amid allegations that it had overpriced medicines by as much as 1300%(?) As a result, the company reached at least seven huge settlements over the past 12 months, some for millions of dollars.
Despite the scandal, Baxter is one of two companies awarded the contract to produce 132 million doses of vaccine for Britain alone.
At this point, I’m tempted to step on my soap-box – How can we trust such abominably unethical organization with our health(?) – but I’ll refrain and stay with the facts. My intention for this blog was always to pull the facts together to help paint a broader context. You draw your own conclusions.
FACT: Swine flu has a death rate of about 0.5%, that makes it slightly more dangerous than seasonal flu.
At the moment, the World Health Organisation (WHO) still describes swine flu as a ‘moderate’ illness, saying that most people recover without the need for hospitalisation or medical care.
FACT: Antiviral drugs cannot cure flu.
At present there’s no good-quality research in people about how well antiviral drugs work against swine flu. All the randomised controlled trials look at how well they work against normal, seasonal flu. And at best, the laboratory tests show that this type of flu virus (not specifically H1N1) is sensitive to two types of antiviral medicine: oseltamivir (TAMIFLU®)) and zanamivir (RELENZA®)).
The last big summary of the research was published in 2007. It looked at three studies of children with seasonal flu treated with these antiviral drugs. The summary showed that antiviral drugs reduced the amount of time children had flu symptoms, by between 10 and 36 hours. Reduced by about ONE day!?
Admittedly, studies also showed both these medicines reduce the chances of getting flu from a close contact (for example someone you work with), as well as relieving some of the symptoms and reducing your chances of getting complications from normal flu, such as pneumonia or bronchitis.
Although the summary was not funded by drug companies, most of the original studies they included were.
NB: Tamiflu is banned in Japan.
FACT: Taking anti-flu medicines will not stop the spread of swine flu.
You will probably still be infectious while taking antiviral medicines. So really, you need to take good hygiene measures, such as regularly washing your hands.
If you get sick, antiviral drugs can make your illness milder and make you feel better. Two types of antivirals, TAMIFLU® and RELENZA® may be effective against the H1N1 flu. But there are known issues with both, severe enough for Japan to ban Tamiflu.
FACT: The clinical trials are inconclusive given the time, certainly not sufficient to justify vaccination of millions of people.
Many doctors and health organizations are concerned about the safety of the swine flu vaccines.
It appears the alleged cure is potentially more dangerous than the disease and ethical medical practitioners are expressing their concerns all around the world.
Wolfgang Wodarg, a doctor and a member of the Bundestag, told the BMJ that governments have created a lot of unnecessary panic. He thinks the World Health Organization “carries a lot of the burden for this.”
Should the governments have agreed to carry legal risk in the event of lawsuits by patients experiencing any negative side effects from the vaccine?
FACT: The evidence of this strain of the flu virus circulating in pigs in many of the originally infected and pandemic declared countries is sketchy.
The lack of similarity between the 2009 A(H1N1) virus and its nearest relatives indicates this is a new type of virus, not derived from a seasonal flu virus, or any other previously identified virus, rather it appears to be a hybrid.
Although swine flu viruses are usually of the H1N1 sub-type* and nonhuman in origin, human swine flu has some elements of a virus found in pigs. Influenza A viruses are found in many different animals, including ducks, chickens, pigs, whales, horses and seals. This strain is called swine flu because it is thought to have originated in pigs – a lot of conjecture involved here. The origin of the latest disease outbreak in Mexico is still under investigation.
NOTE: Sub-type means derived. Natural mutation requires time, so derived how, in a lab?
FACT: A vaccine can only be developed when the specific strain has been identified, and then it takes several months to do so.
Strangely, the report in ‘Science’ (the World Leading Journal of Original Scientific Research), claiming the swine flu outbreak did originate in pigs, was published May 22nd 2009. Barely a month after the first known case was reported.
Another few months later, and we have the vaccines, Pandemrix, the H1N1 vaccine produced by GlaxoSmithKline; And, Celvapan, Baxter’s adjuvant-free H1N1 vaccine (absence of adjuvants means fewer “side”-effects), reserved for top government officials and military (hrmm…?).
Extremely fast work.
FACT: As advised by the WHO, eating well-cooked pork does not pose a risk.
After the initial news broke out, the media were warned not to refer to the outbreak by its common name, swine flu, but to use N1H1, to curtail alarming drops in pork sales.
All I can say is, glad I’m a vegetarian.
FACT: Under the AHMPPI, immunisation would normally mark the beginning of the next phase, or ‘control’.
However, given the moderate nature of pandemic (H1N1) 2009, and the desirability of continuing current measures under the ‘protect’ phase, a change to the ‘control’ phase will not occur ie. In Australia, vaccination is not being legislatively mandated.
Is this bribery(?)
FACT: Since April 2009, the swine flu outbreak has effected 100 countries. WHO’s decision to raise the pandemic alert level to Phase 6 is a reflection of the spread of the virus, not the severity of illness caused by the virus.
In their own words, “Rapid reporting of human infections with novel influenza A viruses will facilitate prompt detection and characterization of influenza A viruses and accelerate the implementation of effective public health responses.”
So, why is the WHO no longer updating its figures? Now it looks like the US CDC might have decided to abandon the facts as well. Makes no sense – The pattern the spread of a disease makes, is a direct guide to the strategy for dealing with it(?)
Look beyond fear.
The truth does not become more true
by virtue of the fact that the
entire world agrees with it,
nor less so even if the whole world
disagrees with it. [Maimonides, 1135 – 1204]
Stay informed. Don’t take anything for granted just because someone ‘credible’ says so. Pull as many facts that are available together into a picture that makes sense for you. Draw a conclusion of your own.
The truth will set you free!