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Monday 18th June 2018

WHO defends pandemic warning

2nd February 2010

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has defended itself against accusations that its swine flu strategy was swayed by the interests of the pharmaceutical industry.


Council of Europe parliamentarian Wolfgang Wodarg accused national and international authorities of declaring a "false pandemic".

Wolfgang Wodarg, the former chief health officer of the Council of Europe, said that it seemed as if the WHO had been under the influence of the pharmaceutical industry, who reaped huge profits from selling vaccines to government stockpiles.

He said that billions of medications were bought by governments worldwide because of the way the WHO portrayed the disease.

Wodarg said that the WHO prepared itself for lying about swine flu by softening its definition of a pandemic about one year ago.

At that time, 'influenza pandemic' was officially redefined by the WHO to mean something that may or may not cause enormous morbidity and death.

Wodarg said that, when the claim was then made that swine flu was a pandemic, contracts that had already been signed with vaccine manufacturers were called into effect.

For its part, the WHO has defended its actions, even though the virus turned out to be relatively mild.

So-called 'flu chief' Keiji Fukuda, an assistant director-general for the WHO, said that although he and his colleagues are under no illusions that their response was the best possible one, there were no inappropriate ties between the WHO and the world's big pharmaceutical companies.

He said that the WHO's policy was to take preventive action, not to have vaccines made only when large numbers of people began to die.

Fukuda also disparaged media comparisons between seasonal flu deaths and H1N1 swine flu deaths.

The numbers used for seasonal flu were derived from mathematical equations and yearly averages.

Although swine flu deaths were actually lower than seasonal flu deaths, every swine flu death had to be confirmed using laboratory methods in order to count.

Fukuda also said that the WHO might yet again redefine the term 'influenza pandemic' following a review.

Peter Openshaw of the Centre for Respiratory Infection at Imperial College London, said that many experts feared that H1N1 swine flu might be as deadly as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic.

He said that he believed that it would have been irresponsible not to order large numbers of vaccines, even if the disease did not turn out to be as deadly as first thought.

He said that scientists had no idea that many people would serve as asymptomatic carriers for the disease.

John Oxford, professor of virology at Barts and The London Hospital, said that swine flu was still mutating, and that it had already displaced 99% of the other flu viruses in the world.

He said that he thought it might cause more deaths next year, especially in elderly people.


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