Complaint for WHO about panic swine flu

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The Council of Europe is reprimanding the WHO for "scaremongering" swine flu
WHO rejects the allegations: "No pressure from the pharmaceutical industry because of H1N1"

Has the World Health Organization "WHO" supported scare tactics for swine flu? At least that's what WHO experts threw on Tuesday at a hearing in the Council of Europe in a public hearing entitled "Dealing with the H1N1 pandemic: Is more transparency necessary?" in front. But the WHO rejects all allegations that "there was no pressure from the pharmaceutical industry".

During the swine flu outbreak caused by the H1N1 pathogen, critical voices rose among experts and scientists. The question was, is swine flu really that dangerous when the course of the disease is rather mild compared to other flu pathogens. And why was swine flu classified as very dangerous anyway? The WHO had to ask itself these and other questions. A sober and critical résumé by the Münster medicine professor Ulrich Keil: "Unbelievable amounts of money are wasted in pandemics that are actually none". The medicine professor Keil has been advising the WHO since 1973 and yet it did not prevent the experts from taking the WHO hard into court.

The question of why WHO Director General Margaret Chan declared swine flu a "pandemic" in June 2009 was particularly controversial. At that time the WHO had declared the highest pandemic level, whereupon the "national pandemic plans" came into force all over the world. Incredibly large sums of money have been spent ordering vaccines from the pharmaceutical industry around the world. In Germany alone, 50 million vaccine doses have been ordered. The federal government asked the population to vaccinate. Did the pharmaceutical industry have any influence on the WHO? Prof. Keil said: "Interestingly, there were already binding contracts with Glaxo Smith Kline," one of the vaccine manufacturers. In this context, it is also worth mentioning that some states had already made contractual agreements with some pharmaceutical companies in 2006 and 2007. So said the Flensburg doctor and epidemiologist Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg "the companies were practically just waiting for this deal".

According to all current knowledge, however, the course of swine flu is quite harmless compared to other flu diseases. On average, up to 20,000 people die each year in Germany from the "normal" annual flu. Few people died from swine flu. However, WHO Vice Director General Keiji Fukuda defended the measures that had been initiated. The pandemic is not over yet, said Fukuda. Worrying is the fact that swine flu has led to serious illnesses and deaths, particularly among young people, said Fukuda.

But the head of the health committee of the Parliamentary Assembly in the Council of Europe, Wolfgang Wodarg (SPD), does not want to accept this argument. Because while a pandemic leads to high disease and death rates according to the original WHO definition, the WHO changed this criterion in May 2009, according to Wodag. This made it possible to turn a "normal flu" into a pandemic. The result was that millions of people got vaccinated unnecessarily. In addition, German health authorities have also participated in the scare tactics. Although it would have been clear as early as October 2009 that the flu would take a harmless course, the Robert Koch Institute and the Paul Ehrlich Institute would have "told people against their better judgment that there could be a second wave" the SPD politician opposite the Berliner Tagesspiegel.

But the WHO defends itself against such arguments. In particular, the WHO does not accept the suspicion that the pharmaceutical industry had a strong influence. There is no evidence of this, WHO special adviser Fukuda. According to the special advisor, there is no "unjustified influence of the research departments of the pharmaceutical companies on the WHO. However, when it comes to creating transparency for the population, the Fakura admits that" things could have gone better here ".

In addition to representatives from the WHO, representatives from the pharmaceutical industry were also heard. Here one defends vigorously against the accusation that one acted out of professional maximization. Luc Hessel of the European Association of Vaccine Manufacturers said you invested at your own risk. "It was not at all clear when a 'return on investment' would take place," Hessel told the Council of Europe. (sb, January 27, 2010)

Further information

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WHO: have fears of swine flu been fueled?
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