CDC officials have ridiculously mishandled "control" of H1N1

Out of Control

Here’s a curious dilemma…

Say you’re in charge of the most prominent public health agency for a Big Country.

So a flu comes along that looks like Bad News. Most of the experts are predicting the Bad News Flu will be huge, maybe deadly.

What do you do? You fire up drug companies to develop a Bad News Flu vaccine, pronto. And to make sure they’re motivated, you order 190 million doses of the vaccine.

Ka-ching! Now you’ve got their attention. And you’ve got the public’s attention too. People start to get nervous. Will there be enough vaccines? Will they arrive in time to be useful? Do we need to get more than one dose? Is it safe for kids? Is it safe for everyone?

Funny thing. While you’re busy answering all those questions, you find out the Bad News Flu doesn’t really seem to be kicking in. In fact, your records show there’s some other virus out there that isn’t Bad News, but sort of seems like Bad News.

Well now. Would it be so bad to let everyone think it’s Bad News? You’ve bought a gajillion vaccines. You can’t let those go to waste. And you SURE can’t admit you got it all wrong. So…

Roll up your sleeves, Big Country! Time for your shots.

Bizarre behavior

Last July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised state health officials to do two things. 1) Stop testing patients for H1N1. 2) Stop counting cases of H1N1.

The official line from CDC went like this: We already know it’s an epidemic. So we’re not going to waste time running tests to tell us what we already know.

Still, someone at CBS news thought that was sort of odd. So they asked CDC officials to be more specific about why they took this unusual action at the very time H1N1 was being touted as a dangerous pandemic.

Seems like we’d want to keep close tabs on something like that!

The CDC didn’t respond to CBS. So the network contacted health officials in all 50 states to get H1N1 statistics that had been gathered until July when the CDC told them to stop.

Here are H1N1 numbers from three states:

  • California tested 13,704 flu patients – 2% had H1N1
  • Alaska tested 722 flu patients – 1% had H1N1
  • Georgia tested 3,117 flu patients – 2% had H1N1

Hmmm. Does that sound like an out-of-control pandemic to you? And you have to wonder: What are the chances the CDC was unaware of these numbers?

But there’s something else going on here. Most of those “flu patients” didn’t have H1N1 or the seasonal flu. Health experts told CBS that the patients appear to have had some sort of upper respiratory infection that wasn’t actually an influenza.

And here’s where it gets downright fishy.

According to the CDC you’re immune from H1N1 if you’ve already had a bout with the virus. But CDC officials are advising those who were told they had H1N1 to go ahead and get the H1N1 vaccine. The exception would be those patients who have confirmation from a lab that they actually did have H1N1. But, of course, many don’t have lab confirmation because the CDC called off testing.

Amazing. If CDC officials had set out to purposely mismanage their “control” of H1N1, they couldn’t have done a better job.

“Swine Flu Cases Overestimated?” CBS News, 10/21/09,