Billions wasted on swine flu pandemic that never came/ The Independent

From today’s Independent:

… Against a background death toll from seasonal flu of up to 500,000 [worldwide], the new H1N1 strain was invisible [18,036 documented deaths through May 9, per WHO].
Professor Ulrich Keil, a World Health Organisation (WHO) adviser on heart disease, said the decision to declare a pandemic had led to a “gigantic misallocation” of health budgets. “We know the great killers are hypertension, smoking, high cholesterol, high body mass index, physical inactivity and low fruit and vegetable intake,” he told the Council of Europe. Yet governments “instead wasted huge amounts of money by investing in pandemic scenarios whose evidence base is weak”…

The last time [swine] H1N1 showed up was in 1976, at a US army base. Washington ordered the immunisation of 40 million Americans before it discovered that it had only one death from the flu but hundreds of cases of severe side-effects to the vaccine. A review headed by Dr Harvey Fineberg put much of the blame on the “influenza fraternity”, arguing that expert panels tend towards “group think” and should be backed up by independent scientific advice. Dr Fineberg is now chairman of the WHO’s external committee evaluating its response to the 2009 outbreak whose final report next May could well lead to a radical rethink of the world’s reaction to new viruses.

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