Thursday, January 28, 2010

Swine Flu - Learnings From the Non Event of 2009 Swine Flu

There is an old adage that those who fail to learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. Whilst H1N1, also known as swine flu, is so 2009, there are lessons to be learned from it.

How did the story unfold? A “new” strain of flu emerged in late April. Other than that it came from Mexico (originally) and was associated with pig flu, there is nothing notable about another strain of what is a very common virus. Yet the “authorities” went into hyper drive. Predictions of thousands of death and millions of people being infected were made.

The chief Medical Officer in the UK suggested that there could be 65 000 deaths. Comparisons were made with the “pandemic” of 1918. Similar dire warnings were made in other countries. In Australia children with a runny nose were placed in quarantine and whole schools closed.

The WHO got into the act with its own dire predictions. Pandemic 6 was quickly reached. This sounds scary but means only that the virus has infected people in two WHO regions. All that takes is for a person with the virus in the USA to go to Europe and someone get it there –seriously scary. To combat this dire threat, governments around the world ordered mass doses of vaccine.

As the months went by the reality diverged further and further from the fear campaign. Deaths were not only way lower than predicted but lower than occurs with seasonal flu. The virus was milder than many other flu strains. There were no mass graves. Economic activity continued as normal.

Despite overwhelming evidence that they got it wrong (same as they did with SARS, Avian Flu, Mad Cow Disease and many others) the authorities have clung to their story.

In December we had USA officials urging everyone to get a vaccine in case of a second wave. It is hard to have a second wave when there was not a first one.
In Australia a similar line has been run although advertisements (paid for by the government) urging everyone to have a vaccine have disappeared.
Australia ordered 20 million vaccines. At least 75% of these will never be used. Many governments have now (quietly) slashed their orders. Glaxo (a vaccine maker) reported sales to governments of $US 1.36 billion in the December quarter. Meanwhile most countries claim their “health “budgets are struggling.

On the positive side, The Council Of Europe is investigating what Wolfgang Wodarg (head of health at the council” called “one of the greatest medical scandals of the century”. In the USA a report has shown that 64% of advisers to the CDC on vaccines had potential conflicts of interest (ties to vaccine makers).

Through all this, not once has there been any “official” advice to the public about things that you can do for your immune system. Simple things like drinking adequate water, doing regular exercise, getting enough sleep, having adequate levels of zinc vitamin and antioxidants (to name a few), eating fruits and vegetables and managing stress.

Of course not, that would be too simple and mean that you have looked after your own health rather than rely on government to “save” you from the latest crisis they have conjured up.

I do not expect the authorities to learn their lesson. They have a vested interest, either financial or perceived importance, in dreaming up health scares.
For those of you who are into do it yourself health there are simple lessons

1 Look after your immune system (see key points above)
2 Do not buy into hysteria and outlandish claims regardless of who makes them
3 Do not be “sold” a solution when there is a free one available
4 Be questioning of information from health authorities.
5 The best way not to be sick (from any cause) is to be healthy
6 Be responsible for your health and have your own DIY Health Plan

Watch out for the next health scare. It will emerge and will follow the same pattern as all the previous ones. Next time step back, do not get caught up and have a quiet chuckle.

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