Saturday, April 10, 2010


How Not To Fight A Pandemic

Now that the swine flu has come and gone - or did it really come at all? - the public are counting the wasted millions and the experts are condemning just how the healthcrats fought the supposed crisis.
I have already criticized just how we fought the swine flu in a column on Dec. 15, titled Save Us From Our Health Bureaucrats. But the post mortems go far beyond my modest critique.
I suppose we should have know we were in trouble with the healthcrats when they tried to talk the public out of a perfectly good name because the pig producers were mad. So the swine flu became H1N1, which many couldn't remember.
Turns out the feds spent $37 million just warning us about the swine flu, and one prominent critic says much of the blitz in ads and various communications came after the supposed epidemic peaked. Dr. Richard Schabas, former chief medical officer of health for Ontario, said all the extra millions were spent urging Ontarians to get flu shots when at that point they were almost useless.
Schabas says Canada's public health agencies overreacted, and he found the persistence of everyone after the outbreak had passed to be offensive.
We're not talking chicken feed when it comes to fighting the swine flu. The federal health agency spent a third of a billion dollars on the swine flu campaign. Then we add in the hundreds of millions spent by the provinces and the municipal health departments and we probably hit a billion dollars.
Then there's a huge cost in public cynicism, and that may be the biggest problem of all. Joe and Jane Canuck, and their kids, and their aged parents who were denied first crack at the vaccine, are going to remember the next time the public health boys and girls start beating the drums about another pandemic about what happened last time.
On April 12, the World Health Organization, a very political body, acknowledged that it did a poor job of communicating the uncertainties about swine flu, and that caused confusion with the public. The WHO's leading pandemic expert, Keiji Fukuda, said there is a huge uncertainty around pandemics. "I think we did not convey that uncertainty." So the public saw that as a non-transparent process. he added. He certainly wasn't kidding about that as there was, he admits, fear and confusion throughout the world.
Of course the whole pandemic panic started with the WHO when it labelled the swine flu as a "level 6" pandemic, which is bureaucratese for a threat of the highest order. Turned out that as viruses go, swine flu was relatively mild, perhaps not as serious as the annual flu that many of us endure. ( I always have got a flu shot every fall since they were available. And 99% of them have worked.)
Despite the proof all around us, the WHO is still fibbing about its over-reaction. Indeed only a week before Fukuda's confession, he was still defending the WHO's rush to battle stations.
We shouldn't screw up when it comes to injecting stuff into our bodies because there are activists who scream out against any shots and then there are those who should know better, like paramedics and a few doctors and some usually bright commentators like Bill Maher. The blunt truth based on detailed medical research by dedicated scientists is that the ordinary fall flu shot and anything else we may inject into our kids to save them from all sorts of nasty diseases is the smartest thing for us to do. The objections often seem primitive, as if Governor Palin had thought them up, or is it a mistake to connect Palin with thoughts.
So we have to get these things right and not have parts of the fight against swine flu resemble a clutch of clowns stumbling around our labs and treasuries. All the signs point to the world facing stubborn epidemics, and even the horror of a real pandemic murdering us by the tens of thousands, because of the daily flow of people throughout the world, and the fact that countries like China still lie when serious illnesses break out there because they don't want to lose face.
The last thing we need when we face a real pandemic is these healthcrats who panic and throw hundreds of millions around without really using their heads.
Woe Canada! And woe those who put all their faith in the WHO, an outfit so political that it keeps out Taiwan because China wants it that way, even though Taiwan, thanks to its proximity to China, has been in the eye of recent medical storms born in China.
Conspiracy theorists look beyond the WHO comfortable bureaucrats to big pharma and say that the drug giants of the world made fortunes as countries dealt with the swine flu.
Now we know from the latest financial post mortems that the ad companies and media giants did too. The only suckers were the Canadians who lined up for hours because the WHO had put the fear of death in them. But then what's new about that!

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