The swine flu outbreak was a ‘false pandemic’ driven by drug companies that stood to make billions of pounds from a worldwide scare, a leading health expert has claimed.
Wolfgang Wodarg, head of health at the Council of Europe, accused the makers of flu drugs and vaccines of influencing the World Health Organisation’s decision to declare a pandemic. This led to the pharmaceutical firms ensuring ‘enormous gains’, while countries, including the UK, ‘squandered’ their meagre health budgets, with millions being vaccinated against a relatively mild disease.
A resolution proposed by Dr Wodarg calling for an investigation into the role of drug firms has been passed by the Council of Europe, the Strasbourg-based ‘senate’ responsible for the European Court of Human Rights. An emergency debate on the issue will be held later this month.
Dr Wodarg’s claims come as it emerged the British government is desperately trying to offload up to £1billion of swine flu vaccine, ordered at the height of the scare. Planners were told to get morgues ready for the sheer scale of deaths and there were warnings that the Army could be called in to prevent riots as people fought to obtain drugs.
But with fewer than 5,000 in England catching the disease last week and just 251 deaths overall, Dr Wodarg has branded the H1N1 outbreak as ‘one of the greatest medical scandals of the century’.
He said: ‘We have had a mild flu – and a false pandemic.’ He added the seeds of the scare were sown five years ago, when it was feared the much more lethal bird flu virus would mutate into a human form. The ‘atmosphere of panic’ led to governments stockpiling the anti-flu drug Tamiflu and putting in place ‘sleeping contracts’ for millions of doses of vaccine.
Dr Wodarg said: ‘The governments have sealed contracts with vaccine producers where they secure orders in advance and take upon themselves almost all the responsibility. In this way the producers of vaccines are sure of enormous gains without having any financial risks. So they just wait, until WHO says “pandemic” and activate the contracts.’
He also claims that to further push their interests, leading drug companies placed ‘their people’ in the ‘cogs’ of the WHO and other influential organisations.
Dr Wodarg said: ‘In order to promote their patented drugs and vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies have influenced scientists and official agencies, responsible for public health standards, to alarm governments worldwide. They have made them squander tight healthcare resources for inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly exposed millions of healthy people to the risk of unknown side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines.’
A GSK spokesman said: ‘Allegations of undue influence are misguided and unfounded. The WHO declared that H1N1 swine flu met the criteria for a pandemic. As WHO have stated, legal regulations and numerous safeguards are in place to manage possible conflicts of interest.’
pandemic – országos járvány
scare – rémület, riadalom
expert – szakért?
pharmaceutical firm – gyógyszercég
squander – pazarlás
meagre – sovány
morgue – hullaház
to offload – kirakodik
sheer scale of sg – valaminek a valódi aránya
scandal – botrány, pletyka
to stockpiling – tárol, tartalékol, felhalmoz
to seal a contract – hitelesít egy szerz?dést
cogs – láncszemek
patented drugs – szabadalmaztatott gyógyszerek
insufficiently – hiányosan, elégtelenül
allegation – állítás
undue – indokolatlan
misguided – félrevezetett
unfounded – megalapozatlan
safeguard – garancia, védelem
interest – részesedés, érdek, haszon