Friday, February 19, 2010

Did the WHO manipulate the H1N1 pandemic??

I've come across several articles lately that indicate (ok, downright say) that the World Health Organization (WHO) misled the public regarding facts about the H1N1 influenza pandemic. (Is this like the "link" between vaccines and autism?)

Apparently there are charges that "the agency deliberately fomented swine flu hysteria." An epidemiologist at the WHO himself said that there was a giant mis-allocation of funds that favored the pharmaceutical companies who made the H1N1 influenza vaccines. The author of the article says that the WHO was covering itself for the millions (billions) of dollars spent on preparing for a pandemic of H1N1 or H5N1 that never materialized (until now). The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) delcared that this "false pandemic" is "one of the greatest medicine scandals of the century." Whoa!!! Really? Preparing for something we didn't know the severity of was a scandal? A hoax? Really?

Luckily, ("unquestionably") H1N1 has been much milder than seasonal influenza and than previously expected. But there was no way to know whether it would increase in intensity or not (clearly, it did not). Look, there will be varying opinions as to whether this could have been predicted or not. But, in the end, isn't it better that we were overprepared than underprepared? Imagine how scathing the media would have been if public health were to have not been ready for widespread morbidity and mortality? What then? Exactly. That's what I'm saying.

Yes, there were resources lost on preparations for this pandemic. But that's what public health does - it prepares for things that may or may not happen, and then when those things don't happen, the public never knows about it. That is preparedness at its best. You don't know how good your water system is until your neighboring city's system falls to pieces, and then you realize how well you're protected against everyday things.

This. Is. Public. Health. article
Atlantic Free Press article
Council of Europe article

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