| 9.9°C Dublin

Swine flu was all just a hoax? Let's get real

You know the swine flu pandemic is a hoax, don't you? Oh yes. All dreamed up by drug companies and other vested interest groups to feather their own nests.

Swine flu, apparently, was a con job, designed simply to keep drug companies rich and public health officials busy, to give the media something to write about and to give us all something to debate around the water cooler.

Let's get real for a minute. So swine flu was a hoax? Tell that to the families of the 22 people in Ireland who died as a result of it. The official world death toll of 14,000 is probably a gross underestimation.

The Council of Europe and the World Health Organisation are to examine claims that the danger of swine flu was exaggerated under pressure from drug companies who stood to profit from it.

The WHO now faces accusations that it was essentially part of a worldwide conspiracy to fan the flames of a pandemic that didn't really exist.



RISKS

However, when you think about it, it doesn't really make much sense that the world's main health protection body would simply invent serious diseases.

The Council of Europe is to debate a resolution that accuses drug companies of leaning on public health officials worldwide about the risks of swine flu.

Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, head of health at the Council of Europe, essentially says the WHO was pressurised by drug firms to declare a pandemic when the H1N1 virus emerged last spring.

He has, to date not provided any proof, as far as I can make out, for these claims.

He believes the pharmaceutical industry has unduly influenced scientists and govern- ment agencies and needlessly exposed millions of people to unknown side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines.

Taken to its logical conclusion, such an argument would suggest that governments should have largely ignored the swine flu threat.

If they had done this, then they really would have needlessly exposed millions to serious illness and death. But let's for a minute grant some credibility to the pandemic hoax theory. This would mean that governments and public health agencies around the world were, last spring, not really interested in dealing with a newly emerged virus that posed a potential massive threat to world health.

Until, that is they were goaded into action by the pharmaceutical companies.

Even if this scenario were to be taken on board for a minute, the next logical question is, what would be the "quid pro quo?" What exactly would have been in it for governments and health agencies in facilitating the mass supply of vaccines or the distribution of anti-flu drugs for no good reason?

Do they need to be pressurised to do their jobs and protect public health?

Claims of conflicts of interest have also been made.

However, the WHO has said numerous safeguards exist to manage possible conflicts of interest. So is the WHO simply lying about this?

Probably not.

It is a fact of capitalist society that big firms manufacture drugs, and it is true that some stood to make millions from the swine flu pandemic.

Until governments themselves start to manufacture drugs, they will rely on big companies to do so, and firms will obviously want to make profits. That's how the system works. This does not prove, however that the whole thing was a gigantic hoax or that governments decided to deal with the outbreak purely as a result of lobbying by pharmaceutical companies.

While the system is by no means perfect, the way pharmaceuticals are distributed is, it should be remembered, subject to controls and regulations.

And while it may be a bit boring to mention it, drugs and medicines often actually help sick people or prevent disease.

When swine flu emerged last year, there was no way of knowing how serious the outbreak would be, how many waves of disease would take place and whether the virus would become even deadlier.

We are still not sure about this.

Swine flu is on the wane, but for all we know, things could get worse again after the prolonged school holiday.

Any reviews of the response to the swine flu pandemic may well conclude that the swine flu outbreak could have been handled better.

None of them, unless there is a huge "smoking gun" somewhere, are likely to conclude that the swine flu pandemic was essentially a hoax.

Niall Hunter is editor of irishhealth.com


Privacy