Girlie jones made a post yesterday
asking whether swine flu was just a clever ploy to justify WHO's budget, to which I started drafting a long comment, until I realised I was, well, going on at great length. So I decided, hey, I've got my own lj where I can mouth off to my heart's content.
I just happened to be doing some research in the area for my novel when the flu news broke. Although I really didn't need to for the purposes of chronicling the first horseman's ride through my novel, I started checking the WHO swine flu news releases daily. Sadly, they were as exciting as watching paint dry. So to respond to one part of GJ's post, there's nothing particularly scaremongering about the WHO media releases
. The media themselves did all the running in circles, screaming and shouting.
WHO are, on the one hand, treating this flu seriously because it seems to be spreading rapidly and easily and could turn into a pandemic. This does not mean it's going to turn into a killer virus. It could just mean a lot of people will get the flu, spend five days on the couch with honey lemon drinks and blowing their noses. WHO have been waiting for more data on the extent of H1N1 mortality and morbidity. They've repeatedly made that clear.
It does no harm for people to do a dry run on what to do in case of a pandemic, even if it turns out that this one that has a low mortality and/or morbidity rate -- just on the off chance it has a high mortality rate, or for the next one.
The other part of GJ's question, the more cynical one was, who benefits?
Roche pharmaceuticals and Donald Rumsfeld. Go on, don't trust me, you can check Snopes
It's the stocking of Tamiflu that rocks my cynic-meter into the red.
Here I wish I had a translation of this article
from Le Grand Soir
to point you to, in which they discuss how Tamiflu's effectiveness has been questioned, in no less an august publication than The Lancet
, and its use has been connected in Japan to sudden death in very small children. Other under-reported side effects include neurological and psychological disturbances.
But by all means, let's line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies. Cynical? You betcha.
On the other hand (I'm growing spares in my closet), let's face it, with global warming, there's more coming. WHO and various national governments aren't wrong to get their drill down pat in advance. Frankly, GJ, if I were living in Queensland, I'd be more worried about malaria.
And hey, what about those poor pigs in Canada
, who caught the swine flu from the worker who'd been on vacation in Mexico. Is anyone worried about them?
On yet another hand (you should see me play piano) I had a storybook when I was a girl with a tale in it about a gatekeeper who made a deal with cholera, plague and yellow fever (I could be getting the diseases wrong -- I was young, they were weird names, but you get the picture -- three killer plagues). The gatekeeper negotiated entrance into the city with each disease, and they agreed on the number of souls each would take in advance. Come the end of the pestilence, the gatekeeper was indignant. He was down way more bodies than he'd bargained for. When he confronted the three and demanded to know why who'd cheated, they all insisted they'd taken only what was agreed.
"You forgot our brother, Fear," they said. "He travels with us, and always takes his share."