The United Nations health agency will review the way it dealt with the outbreak of swine flu once the pandemic has subsided, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a news briefing.
“Criticism is part of an outbreak cycle. We expect and indeed welcome criticism and the chance to discuss it,” she said, adding the WHO’s review would involve independent outside experts and its results would be made public.
But she said it was too soon to say when the examination would take place or which experts would be involved.
In the latest complaint about the way authorities have dealt with the pandemic, the Council of Europe, a political forum of most European countries, is to determine whether drug companies influenced public health officials to spend money unnecessarily on stockpiles of H1N1 vaccines.
Chaib said the WHO took its work of providing independent advice to its 193 member states seriously, and guarded against the influence of vested interests.
Several countries are cutting back orders for H1N1 vaccines as it becomes clear that the outbreak, declared a global pandemic by the WHO in June, is not as severe as at first feared.
Governments will have an opportunity to question the WHO about H1N1 at a meeting of its 34-member board next week.
The WHO’s top flu expert, Keiji Fukuda, will brief the board on January 18 about the latest developments in the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years.
Developing countries still lack adequate access to both antivirals and vaccines despite donations from industrialized countries and drug makers, the WHO said.
Some 200 million doses of H1N1 vaccine and funding of some $12 million have been pledged to date, it said in a document prepared for the board.
“Significant progress in international solidarity has been achieved, through donations by developed countries and manufacturers, but overall access to antiviral medicines and vaccines in developing countries remains limited,” it said.
GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis are among H1N1 vaccine producers.
The WHO last week delivered donated H1N1 vaccine to Mongolia and Azerbaijan, the first of 95 developing and middle-income countries targeted to receive supplies.
It aims to provide these countries with enough vaccine to cover 10 percent of their populations, with health care workers a top priority.
The WHO said last week that southern hemisphere countries struck by H1N1 last year are now broadly protected against new infections, and sickness levels are declining in much of the northern hemisphere, including North America where it first emerged last April.
According to lab-confirmed cases, swine flu has killed at least 12,799 people, but the real toll is much higher and will take several years to establish, the WHO says.
November 16, 2009
By Laura MacInnis
Flu infections may be peaking in some parts of the northern hemisphere, but are still spreading fast in others, the World Health Organization said on Friday.
In an update on the H1N1 swine flu virus, the WHO said parts of the southern and southeastern United States, as well as Iceland and Ireland, seemed to have weakening levels of disease after an unusually early start of the winter flu season.
But the U.N. agency, which declared a global flu pandemic in June, said that big sections of the United States were still experiencing “widespread and intense” flu infections.
It described waves of outbreaks across Canada and in Mexico, where the first severe cases were identified earlier this year.
“In Europe and central Asia, overall influenza transmission continues to intensify,” the WHO said, adding that almost all the influenza viruses analyzed in Europe in recent weeks have been the H1N1 strain and not seasonal flu.
The pandemic virus has now spread to 206 countries, with the latest reported laboratory-confirmed cases in Somalia, Nigeria and Burundi. There have been more than 6,250 deaths to date, mostly in the Americas region, according to the WHO toll.
While saying “high to very high intensity of respiratory diseases” have been reported in some parts of Europe including Belarus, Bulgaria and Russia, it said experts were now less concerned about a big outbreak in Ukraine.
“The initial analysis of information from Ukraine indicates that the numbers of severe cases do not appear to be excessive when compared to the experience of other countries and do not represent any change in the transmission or virulence of the virus,” it said in a statement posted on the WHO website.
Ukraine and Belarus have recently extended school breaks due to fears about the pandemic virus while Afghanistan declared a health emergency and ordered its schools shut for three weeks to battle it.
WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said that school closures were among steps that could slow viral spread at the beginning of an outbreak, but had less usefulness once the flu had reached 5 percent of a given population.
“After the virus becomes more widespread in a country, closing schools has less of an impact,” he told a news briefing earlier this week. “If you take a decision to close schools and universities and other institutions you have to be aware there are social and economic consequences of this decision.”
In new guidance also published on Friday, WHO experts said that people planning “mass gatherings” of 1,000 people or more should consult with public health authorities to make sure the events do not amplify the spread of pandemic flu.
“The decision to proceed with a mass gathering or to restrict, modify, postpone or cancel the event should be based on a thorough risk assessment,” it said in the recommendations published on www.who.int.
Guests and participants should also be encouraged to follow the same flu-fighting steps the WHO has widely urged, including to stay home and especially avoid travel when unwell, to clean hands frequently and to cover coughs and sneezes.
“Where possible, organizers should consider distancing measures to reduce close contact among people during a mass gathering,” it said, suggesting for example that transport be staggered and food and drink stations spread out to avoid unnecessary congregation.
October 23, 2009
By Mike Adams
There’s a new vaccine for nicotine addiction, and another one for drug addiction. There’s an AIDS vaccines (which doesn’t work) and a vaccine for cervical cancer that’s been approved for use on boys (boys don’t have a cervix). Through the pharmaceutical industry, the big push for vaccines is on!
But why, exactly? Is there suddenly a new rash of epidemic disease requiring vaccine treatments? No, not really. What’s new is the way Big Pharma is latching on to these diseases as new opportunities to sell more drugs.
There’s a huge shift underway from drugs designed for sick people to a whole new class of drugs manufactured for healthy people. The new paradigm is that people need drugs before they get sick, as a sort of “protection” against sickness. Drugs, in essence, are being positioned as nutrients — things the human body needs in order to be healthy. And from the moment you’re born, you’re considered deficient in these drugs. That’s why babies are injected with vaccines within minutes after being born. There’s a strong belief in the medical industry that babies are born deficient in vaccines and that such deficiencies must be “corrected” as soon as possible.
This simple but powerful shift in the marketing strategy of Big Pharma has expanded the potential customer based from a subset of the population (people who are sick) to the entire world population. Now, everybody needs a vaccine for something say the drug companies. All that’s necessary for the financial success of these scheme is to convince sick people that they need more drugs (or vaccines), and that’s easily accomplished through disease mongering campaigns (like the current fear push over H1N1 swine flu).
Bypassing the need for scientific evidence
There’s another important shift taking place alongside the big vaccine push: A shift away from “evidence-based medicine” to a new medical paradigm of “dogmatic belief.”
Medicines that treat sick people, you see, have to be proven to work. There have to be clinical trials, and some percentage of those sick people (only 5% or so, typically) have to show some sort of improved response after taking the medicine. This is the so-called “gold standard” of modern medicine. But with vaccines, no proof of efficacy is required. No placebo-controlled studies need to be conducted at all. Vaccines can be openly marketed and prescribed without any evidence that they actually work.
This is the new “free pass” for Big Pharma — a class of medicine that requires no proof! They merely need to be injected into a few hundred people who are observed for as little as two weeks to see if anybody died or collapses into a coma. That’s all the testing that’s required (and sometimes even less). No long-term safety tests are required or pursued, and, importantly, there is no requirement that the vaccine proves it actually works to reduce flu infections (or HPV infections, etc.).
In essence, by pushing for a vaccine approach to virtually everything, including nicotine addictions, the pharmaceutical industry has transformed itself from a small industry that only served sick people with scientifically-proven medicines to a huge global industry that sells vaccines to everyone and needs no proof that they even work. By any assessment, it’s a brilliant strategy for increasing pharmaceutical profits.
July 13, 2009
by Mike Adams
The fact that nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are clinically obese is worrisome for a whole new reason: Evidence emerging from a hospital in Michigan (and published by the CDC) appears to indicate that obese patients may be very easily killed by swine flu.
In the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s report on death and disease, researchers documented the case of ten swine flu patients at a Michigan hospital who became so ill they were put on ventilators. Three of the patients ultimately died from the infection. The kicker? Nine of the ten were obese, and two of the three who died were severely obese.
As reported by Reuters, CDC virologist Dr. Tim Uyeki said, “What this suggests is that there can be severe complications associated with this virus infection, especially in severely obese patients.”
Notably, five of the patients showed evidence of blood clots in their lungs, indicating severe cellular trauma in the lungs. Nine of the patients suffered from multiple organ failure, and six experienced kidney failure.
These findings are especially worrisome because nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults are now clinically obese. Combined with widespread vitamin D deficiency, nutritional deficiencies and pharmaceutically-induced immune suppression, the U.S. population is more vulnerable to a pandemic right now than any other population in the history of the world.
The American people, in other words, are primed for a pandemic. Virtually no one in America is both physically fit and nutritionally healthy anymore. Shockingly, most Americans don’t even recognize physical fitness anymore, thinking that excess body fat is normal and that obese babies are just “chubby.” Should the circulating swine flu combine with seasonal flu this fall, it could devastate the immunologically vulnerable U.S. population, potentially killing millions.
The number of patients reviewed in this study is quite small (only ten), but even so, this could be a warning sign of more deaths to come from infected, obese patients. Of course, there’s really no mystery why obesity may cause extreme vulnerability to swine flu infections: The virus kills through an inflammatory process, and obesity is, itself, a highly-inflammatory condition that only exacerbates the deadliness of the H1N1 virus.
Patients who have made themselves obese — for whatever reason — have also unleashed a storm of inflammatory cytokines in their blood, and these cytokines are precisely what get over-excited during the body’s response to a swine flu infection, leading to organ damage and death. This is precisely why people wishing to survive the coming pandemic must make a special effort to attain a high level of physical and nutritional health before such a pandemic arrives.
Being obese compromises your body’s immune system, liver, heart, lungs and kidneys. This puts a serious additional burden on your body, leaving few spare resources for fighting off infections. That’s probably why nine out of ten swine flu victims documented in the Michigan hospital were obese.
The bottom line in this study is quite clear: Don’t be obese during the next pandemic. If you are obese now, let this bit of knowledge provide whatever extra motivation you need to drop some excess body fat and reduce the inflammatory burden on your body’s organs. Obesity is, after all, readily reversed through simple changes in diet and exercise habits.