Friday, May 21, 2010

Swine flu: The pandemic that wasn't

Just weeks before declaring the 2009 swine flu pandemic the World Health Organization (WHO) changed its pandemic criteria omitting the requirement for a significant death toll for an outbreak, the new definition making no mention whatsoever of mortality. Had the WHO not removed its long-standing death toll criteria it could not have declared the near panic-inducing swine flu "pandemic".

Some experts were perplexed by the WHO's overreaction to the initial flu outbreak:

Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, a German doctor and former member of parliament, had been watching the spread of swine flu in Mexico City, and was puzzled at the reaction of the WHO.

"What we experienced in Mexico City was a very mild flu," he explained, "which did not kill more than usual - which killed even less people than usual.

"This was suddenly, a fast-spreading mild flu, a pandemic. But this is not the definition of a pandemic I learned, which has to be severe, with a much higher than usual death rate."

The costs resulting from the swine flu scare are staggering:

France, for example, spent over 600m euros ($739m, £515m) on 94 million doses of vaccine, most of which have not been used.

Most of these doses will likely be dumped. Countries would therefore do well to think very carefully before committing to spend millions or even billions based on the United Nations' predictions of climate change doom.


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