It's Pandemic Lite, and it just won't go away

H1N1 Redux

This is one I would definitely like to see called in front of Judge Judy.

The Defendant: Dr. Margaret Chan, director of the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Chan recently observed the one-year anniversary of the H1N1 pandemic by announcing that H1N1 is still considered a pandemic.

Of course, this isn’t an old fashioned pandemic where people all over the world witness widespread disease, suffering, and hideous death rates.

No, this is a 21st century pandemic. Call it Pandemic Lite.

So how do you lighten up a pandemic? No problem. About a year ago, WHO officials simply changed the definition of pandemic. No explanation–they just changed it.

Before May 2009, the definition read like this: “An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus appears against which the human population has no immunity, resulting in epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.”

The revised definition removed those last seven words: “with enormous numbers of deaths and illness.”

Judge Judy? Your take on this? “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining!”

It’s raining

Once the definition of pandemic was dramatically watered down, H1N1 was ready for prime time. And just a few weeks later, WHO made the announcement: H1N1 was officially a pandemic.

Now, one year later, we have Plaintiff Number One: The Council of Europe.

In a recent report, the CoE accused WHO of vastly overrating the seriousness of the pandemic, adding that WHO’s handling of H1N1 caused a “waste of large sums of public money, and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public.”

Plaintiff Number Two is the British Medical Journal. A recent BMJ investigation revealed that several experts who advised WHO in planning for an H1N1 pandemic just happened to have financial and professional ties to Roche and GlaxoSmithKline–two drug companies that stood to make huge profits from sales of antiviral drugs in the event of a flu pandemic.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., experts are predicting that H1N1 is going to be around for awhile.

One microbiologist told HealthDay News that the “new” H1N1 strain will become the “seasonal H1N1 virus.” Call it Seasonal Flu Plus. Just like the garden variety flu, seasonal H1N1 will arrive around Labor Day, linger past St. Patrick’s Day, and will help sell a boatload of seasonal vaccines in between.

So I guess it’s official. Thanks to WHO, H1N1 might not be an actual pandemic but it is a hugely successful worldwide franchise!

You don’t need Judge Judy to tell you we’ve all been scammed.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson

“WHO Criticized for Pandemic Conflicts of Interest” Ed Silverman, Pharmalot, 6/4/10,
“WHO and the pandemic flu ‘conspiracies'” BMJ, 6/3/10,
“A Year After Its Emergence, H1N1 Swine Flu Lingers” Amanda Gardner, HealthDay News, 6/4/10,

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