A recent editorial entitled ‘The Swine Flu Scam’ in the Journal of Public Health begins;
There is a conspiracy theory about nearly everything. So claims that swine flu was a scam come as no surprise. ‘This was a pandemic that never really was’ according to Paul Flynn, MP who prepared a recent report on the flu pandemic for the Council of Europe.1 The report expresses alarm about the way the pandemic was handled. It criticizes the proportionality of the response and argues that over reaction led to waste of public money, distortion of public health priorities and unjustified fears about health risks. It identifies ‘grave shortcomings’ in the transparency of decision-making processes and concerns about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry. The World Health Organization (WHO) comes in for particular criticism for failing to publish the declarations of interest of members of its Emergency Committee, the group advising director general Dr Margaret Chan on the pandemic response.
These themes are taken up by Cohen and Carter2 in the British Medical Journal. They found that key scientists had done paid work for pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from advice they gave to WHO. However, declarations made by members of the Emergency Committee, and of other WHO committees that helped produce influenza preparedness plans, have never been disclosed by WHO. Even the identities of the 16 member Emergency Committee remain a closely guarded secret.
- Flynn P. Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee. Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The Handling of the H1N1 Pandemic: More Transparency Needed 2010.http://assembly.coe.int/CommitteeDocs/2010/20100329_MemorandumPandemie_E.pdf.
- Cohen D, Carter P. WHO and the pandemic flu ‘conspiracies. Br Med J 2010;340:c2912.
This article goes on to conclude that conflict of interest is not necessarily a problem, so long as it is accompanied by transparency.
It is then followed by a declaration of interest by the author;
Conflict of interest: M.R.E. is a member of the UK Scientific Pandemic Influenza Advisory Committee and the UK Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies.
In light of this transparency the article may now be re-read as simply ‘DON’T BLAME US – IT WAS THEM THAT DID IT!’.
The author discounts the conspiracies as merely a ‘cock-up’, yet notes above that “the identities of the 16 member Emergency Committee remain a closely guarded secret”. So how can a conspiracy be so easily discounted? It is certainly no simple ‘cock-up’ for GSK, Merck et al., whose coffers now bulge with extra billions of taxpayer’s hard-earned. For their part, it was carefully managed business run at state and global levels to ensure maximum profitability, as it always is. Please ensure you read this article on marketing HPV vaccine if you think otherwise.
So we are left with public health and public money being manipulated for the benefit of shareholders in Big Pharma as a result of actions (or inactions) and recommendations of unknown persons within an unaccountable advisory body known to have close links to… Big Pharma. Sound like a conspiracy yet?
Government urges mothers-to-be to take up offer in case of a resurgence of swine flu this winter
You couldn’t make it up!
Luckily, you don’t have to, as some unnamed people working at your expense have already done so.