Avian and Swine Flu News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Avian and Swine Flu News Articles in Media
A human pandemic caused by A(H5N1) is by no means inevitable. Many researchers doubt it will ever happen. The virus does not infect people easily, and those who do contract it almost never spread it to other humans. Bird flu is what the name implies: mostly an avian disease. It has infected tens of millions of birds but fewer than 200 people, and nearly all of them have caught it from birds. But when A(H5N1) does get into people, it can be deadly. It has killed more than half of its known human victims -- an extraordinarily high rate. The virus lacks just one trait that could turn it into a pandemic: transmissibility. Everything hangs on transmissibility. But it is impossible to predict whether A(H5N1) will become contagious among people. Most bird flu viruses do not jump species to people. Some experts say that since A(H5N1) has been around for at least 10 years and the shift has not occurred, it is unlikely to happen. Others refuse to take that bet. The best protection in any flu pandemic will come from a vaccine, but scientists cannot tell ahead of time what strain the vaccine should protect against. There is no assurance that the next pandemic will even involve A(H5N1). It may involve a different strain of bird flu, and an A(H5N1) vaccine would not work for it.
Note: Many thanks to the Times for this rare article which largely dispels fears rather than increasing them. For more excellent information on the avian flu, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/avianflu
In a development health experts are calling alarming, two bird flu patients in Vietnam died after developing resistance to Tamiflu, the key drug that governments are stockpiling in case of a large-scale outbreak. The experts said the deaths were disturbing because the two girls had received early and aggressive treatment with Tamiflu and had gotten the recommended doses. Since 2003, avian flu has killed about 70 people, mostly in Vietnam and Thailand, and nearly all involved close contact with infected birds. Health experts fear the virus could morph into a form that spreads easily between people. The new report involved eight Vietnamese bird flu patients given Tamiflu upon being hospitalized in 2004 or 2005. Half of the patients died. Lab tests showed two of those who died...had developed resistance.
Note: If the above link fails, click here.
The prospect of a bird flu outbreak may be panicking people around the globe, but it's proving to be very good news for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other politically connected investors in Gilead Sciences, the California biotech company that owns the rights to Tamiflu. Rumsfeld served as Gilead (Research)'s chairman from 1997 until he joined the Bush administration in 2001, and he still holds a Gilead stake valued at between $5 million and $25 million. In the past six months fears of a pandemic and the ensuing scramble for Tamiflu have sent Gilead's stock from $35 to $47. That's made the Pentagon chief, already one of the wealthiest members of the Bush cabinet, at least $1 million richer. Rumsfeld isn't the only political heavyweight benefiting from demand for Tamiflu. Former Secretary of State George Shultz, who is on Gilead's board, has sold more than $7 million worth of Gilead since the beginning of 2005.
Patients who suffered brain damage as a result of taking a swine flu vaccine are to receive multi-million-pound payouts from the UK government. Following the swine flu outbreak of 2009, about 60 million people, most of them children, received the vaccine. It was subsequently revealed that the vaccine, Pandemrix, can cause narcolepsy and cataplexy in about one in 16,000 people, and many more are expected to come forward with the symptoms. Across Europe, more than 800 children are so far known to have been made ill by the vaccine. The Pandemrix vaccine was manufactured by pharmaceuticals giant Glaxo Smith Kline, which refused to supply governments unless it was indemnified against any claim for damage caused. "There's no doubt in my mind whatsoever that Pandemrix increased the occurrence of narcolepsy onset in children," Emmanuelle Mignot, a specialist in sleep disorder at Stanford University in the United States told Reuters. Among those affected are NHS medical staff, many of whom are now unable to do their jobs because of the symptoms brought on by the vaccine. They will be suing the government for millions in lost earnings. However, the vast majority of patients affected - around 80% - are children. Despite a 2011 warning from the European Medicines Agency against using the vaccine on those under 20 and a study indicating a 13-fold heightened risk of narcolepsy in vaccinated children, GSK has refused to acknowledge a link.
Note: Read about people in other countries who were damaged by the vaccine on this webpage. See powerful media reports suggesting that both the avian flu and swine flu were manipulated to promote fear and boost pharmaceutical sales. And watch a powerful CBS video describing how 4,000 Americans in 1976 sued for neurological damages caused by a swine flu vaccine that they agreed to take after falling for fear mongering about the flu by the government. 300 people allegedly died from the vaccine. For more, see the excellent resources in our Health Information Center.
Scientists who drew up the key World Health Organisation guidelines advising governments to stockpile drugs in the event of a flu pandemic had previously been paid by drug companies which stood to profit. An investigation by the British Medical Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the not-for-profit reporting unit, shows that WHO guidance issued in 2004 was authored by three scientists who had previously received payment for other work from Roche, which makes Tamiflu, and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), manufacturer of Relenza. Pharmaceutical companies banked more than $7bn (ďż˝4.8bn) as governments stockpiled drugs. "The tentacles of drug company influence are in all levels in the decision-making process," said Paul Flynn, the Labour MP who sits on the council's health committee. Although the experts consulted made no secret of industry ties in other settings, declaring them in research papers and at universities, the WHO itself did not publicly disclose any of these in its seminal 2004 guidance.
Note: For wide coverage from reliable sourcesof the swine and avian flu "fake pandemics" designed for corporate profit, click here.
Despite months of dire warnings and millions in taxpayer dollars, less than half of the 229 million doses of H1N1 vaccine the government bought to fight the pandemic have been administered -- leaving an estimated 71.5 million doses that must be discarded if they are not used before they expire. Between 81 million and 91 million doses of swine flu vaccine were injected into peoples' arms or squirted up their noses through the end of February, according to federal officials, leaving about 138 million doses unused. An estimated 60 million of those will be donated to poor countries or saved for possible future use. But doses already in vials and syringes will be thrown away if not used before their expiration dates pass. The prospect of millions of doses of the once-precious vaccine being discarded is the latest twist in the $1.6 billion program -- the most ambitious immunization campaign in U.S. history. The government-led effort produced a vaccine in record time, but unexpected production problems delayed delivery of the bulk of supplies until after the second wave of infections had peaked.
Note: Yet the pharmaceutical companies get to keep the huge profits from the vaccines, paid for by the taxpayers. For key reports from major media sources on the government and pharmaceutical corporation corruption involving bird and swine flu vaccines, click here.
Drug companies manipulated the World Health Organisation into downgrading its definition of a pandemic so they could cash in on a swine flu outbreak, it is claimed. An inquiry heard yesterday that the WHO allegedly softened its criteria for declaring a H1N1 flu pandemic last spring - just weeks before announcing there was a worldwide outbreak. Critics said the decision was driven by pharmaceutical companies desperate to recoup the billions of pounds they had invested in researching and developing pandemic vaccines after the bird flu scares in 2006 and 2007. As a result, millions of people have been vaccinated against a mild illness, and money that could have been used to prevent and treat major killers such as heart disease has been squandered. The claims, which emerged during the first of several Council of Europe hearings into the handling of the swine flu pandemic, were strongly rejected by the WHO. Following the organisation's declaration of a pandemic, the Department of Health warned of 65,000 deaths, set up a special advice line and website, and suspended normal rules so anti-flu drugs could be given without prescription. But with just 250 or so deaths in Britain and 14,000 worldwide, the WHO is being asked to account for its actions.
Note: For lots more on the swine flu "false pandemic" from reliable sources, click here.
More than half the scientists on the swine flu taskforce advising the [UK] Government have ties to drug companies. Eleven of the 20 members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) have done work for the pharmaceutical industry or are linked to it through their universities. Many have declared interests in GlaxoSmithKline, the vaccine maker expected to be the biggest beneficiary of the pandemic. The disclosure of the register of interests comes just days after a health expert branded the swine flu outbreak a 'false pandemic' driven by the drug companies which stood to profit. The Government is now trying to offload up to Ł1billion worth of unwanted swine flu vaccine. Last July, the Department of Health warned of up 65,000 deaths, with 350 a day at the pandemic's peak. But the death toll now stands at just 251. SAGE was created to give Ministers recommendations on how to control and treat the virus. Official documents show some members are linked to vaccine manufacturer Baxter and to Roche, which makes Tamiflu. GSK, Baxter and Roche stand to make up to Ł1.5billion between them from Government contracts related to swine flu.
Note: For lots more on the Swine Flu "false pandemic," click here.
The World Health Organization said it plans to conduct a review of its response to swine flu as policymakers in Europe prepare for an “urgent debate” on the influenza pandemic. Yesterday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said “false pandemics, a threat to health” will be a major theme of its next plenary session. Health authorities worldwide are assessing whether their response to swine flu is justified by its threat as cases retreat in the U.S. and Western Europe. The new H1N1 virus, which has targeted children and younger adults, has so far resulted in fewer deaths than attributed to seasonal strains, which kills mostly the frail elderly. Council of Europe parliamentarian Wolfgang Wodarg said last week he and several colleagues had called for a commission of inquiry into a “false pandemic” and the way it was handled at national and European levels, claiming pressure from pharmaceutical firms. The WHO moved to the top level of its six-step pandemic alert in June after the discovery of swine flu in Mexico and the U.S. in April.
Note: BusinessWeek deleted this article days after posting it. Could someone have pressured them to do this? If you click the above link, the article is gone, though you can still see a promo here and read it on BusinessWeek in the Google cache available here. For a link to the article on the Bloomberg website, click here. For revealing reports of the corruption surrounding the swine flu and previous health scares, click here.
A new report finds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a poor job of screening medical experts for financial conflicts when it hired them to advise the agency on vaccine safety. Most of the experts who served on advisory panels in 2007 to evaluate vaccines for flu and cervical cancer had potential conflicts that were never resolved, the report said. Some were legally barred from considering the issues but did so anyway. In the report ... Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that the centers failed nearly every time to ensure that the experts adequately filled out forms confirming they were not being paid by companies with an interest in their decisions. The report found that 64 percent of the advisers had potential conflicts of interest that were never identified or were left unresolved by the centers. Thirteen percent failed to have an appropriate conflicts form on file at the agency at all, which should have barred their participation in the meetings entirely, Mr. Levinson found. And 3 percent voted on matters that ethics officers had already barred them from considering.
European scientists and health authorities are facing angry questions about why H1N1 flu has not caused death and destruction on the scale first feared, and they need to respond deftly to ensure public support. Accusations are flying in British and French media that the pandemic has been "hyped" by medical researchers to further their own cause, boost research grants and line the pockets of drug companies. Britain's Independent newspaper this week asked "Pandemic? What Pandemic?." France's Le Parisien newspaper ran the headline: "Swine flu: why the French distrust the vaccine" and noted a gap between the predicted impact of H1N1 and the less dramatic reality. "Dangerous liaisons between certain experts, the labs and the government, the obscurity of the contracts between the state and the pharma firms have added to the doubt." In Britain, health authorities' original worst-case scenario -- which said as many as 65,000 could die from H1N1 -- has twice been revised down and the prediction is now for around 1,000 deaths, way below the average annual toll of 4,000 to 8,000 deaths from seasonal winter flu.
Note: It's quite interesting and telling that a thorough Internet seach showed that no major media picked up this article from Reuters News Agency
Americans are still debating whether to roll up their sleeves for a swine flu shot, but companies have already figured it out: vaccines are good for business. Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market. "The vaccine market is booming," says Bruce Carlson, spokesperson at market research firm Kalorama, which publishes an annual survey of the vaccine industry. "It's an enormous growth area for pharmaceuticals at a time when other areas are not doing so well," he says. As always with pandemic flus, taxpayers are footing the $1.5 billion check for the 250 million swine flu vaccines that the government has ordered so far and will be distributing free to doctors, pharmacies and schools. In addition, Congress has set aside more than $10 billion this year to research flu viruses, monitor H1N1's progress and educate the public about prevention. Drugmakers pocket most of the revenues from flu sales. But some say it's not just drugmakers who stand to benefit. Doctors collect copayments for special office visits to inject shots, and there have been assertions that these doctors actually profit handsomely from these vaccinations. Pharmacies also charge co-payments or full price of about $25 to those without insurance.
Note: For a revealing article questioning the efficacy of vaccines, click here. And for a powerful CBS '60 Minutes' news clip clearly showing how the profit motive in vaccines endangers public health, click here.
Health care workers are planning to take to the streets Tuesday at a rally in front of the Albany, N.Y. state capitol to protest mandatory vaccination. The rally is intended to call for "freedom of choice in vaccination and health care" and to protest mandatory vaccination for influenza and the H1N1 swine flu. "This vaccine has not been clinically tested to the same degree as the regular flu vaccine," Tara Accavallo, a registered nurse on Long Island, told Newsday. "If something happens to me, if I get seriously injured from this vaccine, who's going to help me?" While physicians, nurses, and medical technicians may not be known for their willingness to march on state capitols, a recent New York Department of Health requirement has sparked an unusually intense response. The August 13 regulations say that all health care workers who "could potentially expose patients" must be vaccinated for influenza by November 30 unless it would be "detrimental" to the recipient's health. This raises an obvious and important question: Under what circumstances can government officials order mandatory vaccination? And could the general public be ordered to roll up their sleeves for injections, even if there might be side effects beyond a sore arm or mild fever? The concern in New York also comes as skepticism of vaccination in general seems to be on the rise.
Note: For more on this protest, click here. Note that the U.S. government has granted immunity from lawsuits to the drug companies manufacturing the vaccines. So who will be responsible if there is a repeat of the 1976 swine flu vaccination campaign, where hundreds died and thousands were paralyzed by the vaccines?
In preparation for swine-flu vaccinations next month, Washington's Health Department ... temporarily suspended a rule that limits the amount of a mercury preservative [called Thimerosal] in vaccines given to pregnant women and children under the age of 3. Thimerosal has been eliminated from most vaccines in the United States, but it will be added to the bulk of the swine-flu vaccine. A vocal minority believes the compound could be linked to autism. About 15 percent of the vaccine supply will be mercury-free. Thimerosal will be added to the vaccine because it is being produced in vials that contain enough medication for 10 shots. The mercury compound kills bacteria, lowering the risk that the drug will be contaminated by needles used to withdraw separate doses. "Every time you introduce a needle, you run a risk of introducing a potential contaminant," said Dr. Tony Marfin, state epidemiologist for infectious disease. Mercury-free vaccine will be produced in single-dose vials. Nasal sprays do not contain mercury but are not recommended for children under the age of 2 and pregnant women, because they contain live, weakened virus. The law limiting the mercury preservative will be suspended for six months and applies only to the swine-flu vaccines. Once common in vaccines, thimerosal has been largely phased out in most wealthy nations. Children's vaccines in the United States are almost exclusively mercury-free, single-dose injections. After 1976's mass vaccination against a different swine-flu strain, about 500 people developed a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), and some died. Scientists still haven't figured out why.
Note: To watch a vitally important 10-minute clip from CBS's 60 Minutes revealing government complicity in the deaths of 300 Americans and permanent paralysis of thousands more from the vaccine during the 1976 swine flu scare, click here. This is the most revealing clip by far on the swine flu that we've seen. For much more information on the dangers of thimerosal in vaccines, click here.
Healthy people who catch swine flu but show only mild symptoms should not be given Tamiflu, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said. The advice contradicts British policy on the issue, which has seen hundreds of thousands of doses of the antiviral given to people with the virus. Today's advice, published on the WHO website, said most patients were experiencing typical flu symptoms and would get better within a week. It said Tamiflu (also called oseltamivir) and another antiviral Relenza (also called zanamivir) should not be given to healthy people who have only mild symptoms. The latest WHO advice, from a panel of international experts, comes as new figures show that 45,986 courses of antivirals were given to patients in England in the week ending August 18. In the previous week, 90,363 courses of antivirals were given out. There have been fears that mass use of Tamiflu will encourage the virus to become resistant to the antiviral. Researchers have also expressed concern over the side effects of the drug, including sickness, nightmares and insomnia in children. A team from Oxford University said earlier this month children with mild symptoms should not be given the antiviral to combat swine flu and urged the Department of Health to urgently rethink its policy.
In an interview with SPIEGEL, epidemiologist Tom Jefferson speaks about dangerous fear-mongering, misguided, money-driven research and why we should all be washing our hands a lot more often. SPIEGEL: Do you consider the swine flu to be particularly worrisome? Jefferson: There are some people who make predictions year after year, and they get worse and worse. None of them so far have come about, and these people are still there making these predictions. Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur. SPIEGEL: Who do you mean? Jefferson: The WHO and public health officials, virologists and the pharmaceutical companies. They've built this machine around the impending pandemic. And there's a lot of money involved, and influence, and careers, and entire institutions! And all it took was one of these influenza viruses to mutate to start the machine grinding. SPIEGEL: Do you think the WHO declared a pandemic prematurely? Jefferson: Don't you think there's something noteworthy about the fact that the WHO has changed its definition of pandemic? The old definition was a new virus, which went around quickly, for which you didn't have immunity, and which created a high morbidity and mortality rate. Now the last two have been dropped, and that's how swine flu has been categorized as a pandemic.
Note: For lots more on the Swine Flu "false pandemic," click here.
In February 1976, an outbreak of swine flu struck Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey, killing a 19-year-old private and infecting hundreds of soldiers. Concerned that the U.S. was on the verge of a devastating epidemic, President Gerald Ford ordered a nationwide vaccination program at a cost of $135 million (some $500 million in today's money). Within weeks, reports surfaced of people developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing nerve disease that can be caused by the vaccine. By April, more than 30 people had died of the condition. Facing protests, federal officials abruptly canceled the program on Dec. 16. The epidemic failed to materialize. Medical historians and epidemiologists say ... the decisions made in the wake of the '76 outbreak — and the public's response to them — provide a cautionary tale for public health officials, who may soon have to consider whether to institute draconian measures to combat the disease. "I think 1976 provides an example of how not to handle a flu outbreak," says Hugh Pennington, an emeritus professor of virology at Britain's University of Aberdeen. Despite modern advances in microbiology, today's health officials still make decisions in a "cloud of uncertainty," Pennington says. "At the moment, our understanding of the current outbreak is similarly limited. For example, we don't yet understand why people are dying in Mexico but not elsewhere." Howard Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and a historical consultant to the CDC on flu pandemics, says the most vexing decision facing health officials is when to institute mass vaccination programs.
Note: To watch two short commercials made in 1976 showing clear scare tactics, click here. Only one person died from the actual flu in this 1976 "epidemic," yet more than 30 died of the flu vaccine. To explore the serious risks of vaccines reported in the media, click here. For lots more on bird and swine flu scares, click here.
Federal health authorities have signed a two-year deal to help states buy more than half a billion dollars worth of the antiviral drug Tamiflu as a hedge against a pandemic of deadly avian influenza, but there is a catch: States will have to pay for three-quarters of it. Under terms of the deal negotiated with Roche by the Department of Health and Human Services, the states can order up to 31 million packets of Tamiflu -- each containing a 10-pill course of treatment -- for a total cost of $596 million over the next two years. The Bush administration announced late Friday that it had contracted with Swiss drugmaker Roche Laboratories Inc. to supply Tamiflu for stockpiles in all 50 states. The federal government, meanwhile, plans to build its own centralized stockpile. The plan is to have enough antiviral drug in state and federal warehouses by December 2008 to treat 81 million people. Tamiflu is considered by scientists to be the first line of defense against the H5N1 strain of bird flu. The disease is currently confined primarily to chickens, ducks and some wild waterfowl, but researchers fear it could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans.
Note: No mention is made here that Donald Rumsfeld has already made millions from sales of Tamiflu, and that he was on the board of the company that developed the drug. Many top researchers also believe there is little chance of avian flu mutating. Why are we spending hundreds of millions of dollars to combat a virus which has not even mutated yet? To verify these and other vital facts, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/avianflu
Just as President George W. Bush is launching an ambitious plan to guard against an avian flu pandemic, an administration program to prepare for a potential anthrax attack is running into new and unexpected hurdles. VaxGen Inc., a California biotech firm that last year was awarded an $877.5 million contract to supply a newly invented, and so far unlicensed, anthrax vaccine, acknowledged this week that it won't begin to start deliveries to the federal government until the latter part of next year -- six months later than it originally intended. For months, investigators on both sides of the aisle have expressed concerns that the administration may have invested too big a chunk of the nation's biodefenses in one obscure and relatively untested company. Last year's decision by HHS to award the contract to the little-known VaxGen is being scrutinized by at least two congressional committees. The company's product will have to pass more large-scale tests proving its safety and effectiveness on people before it is fully licensed by the Food and Drug Administration for use on humans, and company officials say they do not expect it to be fully licensed at least until 2007. A New York Times report last December noted that...the company had faced lawsuits filed by investors who claimed VaxGen misinformed them about an AIDS vaccine that the company had heavily promoted but which later failed to work.
Note: For more on how greed and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry affects your health and wallet, see our Health Information Center.
The existence of the influenza vaccine ... may give us a sense of false security when it comes to the possibility of a pandemic outbreak of influenza. In fact, the flu vaccine must be reformulated each year to keep pace with the newest variants of this fast-mutating virus. The recipe for making the flu vaccine is simple. Take the current year's variant of the influenza virus, throw it into a stew with a strain of virus that leads to rapid proliferation. Incorporate the fast-growing strain into its own genes and start replicating it. From there, it's an easy matter to take those plentiful viruses and attenuate them for a flu vaccine. But the scientists who must determine what virus will cause the next year's illness run a high chance of being wrong. Some observers have put the odds of success at no better than 50-50. Even when they are right, the vaccine lasts only as long as that year's strain. Experts thought they saw big-league trouble coming in February 1976, when a few cases of severe swine flu broke out among young military recruits in Fort Dix, N.J. One of them, Pvt. David Lewis, 19, died. Lewis and four others were shown to be infected with the same H1N1 influenza virus as was responsible for the 1918 pandemic. But the swine-flu pandemic never materialized. In retrospect, some critics now say 40 million Americans were vaccinated for nothing. In fact, the only real illness to result from the swine flu adventure was caused by the vaccine: about one thousand people developed Guillain-Barre syndrome, a serious paralytic disease that could be traced directly to an immunological response to the inoculation.
Note: This article also discusses how new, intensified farming techniques for chickens, pigs, and ducks are the prime breeding ground for viruses which spread around the world. A powerful CBS 60 Minutes clip on the 1976 swine flu scare is available here. The intrepid 60 Minutes team shows how greed and blatant corruption led to the death of hundreds and paralysis of thousands as a direct result of the vaccine developed that year, while only one person died from the flu. For lots more, click here.
Important Note: Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.