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article imageDid the WHO and pharma-giants manufacture H1N1 crisis?

By Stephanie Dearing     Jan 14, 2010 in Health
Was the swine a fake pandemic? That is the question being asked around the world. A handful of experts advising the WHO on vaccines are alleged to be linked to giant pharmaceutical companies.
The Chairman of the Council of Europe's health committee, Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg, said the H1N1 pandemic was a false pandemic driven by pharmaceutical companies. The scathing statement was bolstered by documentation showing that at least one WHO vaccine expert was paid over $6 million Euros by Glaxo-Smith-Kline for a vaccination research program in 2009. Danish investigative reporters found the links, and said there are at least six other WHO immunization advisers linked to the pharmaceutical companies who profited from the pandemic. The WHO panel, called the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, advised the world to immunize against the H1N1 virus early in 2009.
Danish newspapers had found the connections between the big pharmaceutical companies and the World Health Organization near the end of 2009. The WHO issued a statement responding "... WHO has historically collaborated with the pharmaceutical industry for legitimate reasons ... Numerous safeguards are in place to manage possible conflicts of interest or their perception."
The other WHO experts alleged to have financial links to pharmaceutical companies are Dr Peter Figueroa, Dr Neil Ferguson, Prof Malik Peiris, Dr Arnold Monto, Dr Friedrich Hayden and Dr Albert Osterhaus. According to the Times of India, only Dr Figuero disclosed he had received funding from Merck.
In a December interview with the Danish daily, Information, Dr. Wodarg characterized the pandemic as "one of the greatest medical scandals of the century.” The Council of Europe voted in favour of investigating the '"false pandemic."
Saying the WHO would be reviewing its procedures around the H1N1 pandemic once the pandemic has ended, officials are vigorously defending the organization. The Special Adviser on the flu pandemic to the WHO's Director-General, Keiji Fukuda spoke at a press conference Thursday saying "The world is going through a real pandemic. The description of it as a fake is both wrong and irresponsible. WHO has been balanced and truthful in the information it has provided to the public. It has not underplayed and not overplayed the risk it poses to the public. We did take very great care that the advice it received is not unduly influenced." Other medical experts are backing the WHO, denouncing Wodarg.
Glaxo-Kline-Smith announced Tuesday that it would accept a reduction in orders of H1N1 vaccine in Europe. Numerous nations have cut their contracted orders because the H1N1 pandemic is not as severe as it was anticipated to be. The finding that a single dose is sufficient for immunisation has also contributed to the reduction. The lowered requests for vaccine is anticipated to cost Glaxo at least $300 million (European). The Daily Mail reports that the United Kingdom has £1 billion worth of H1N1 vaccine it is trying to get rid of.
According to WHO, more than 12,000 people have died worldwide as a result of the H1N1 virus. Only a few months ago, North Americans were desperate to get immunized, but after the initial round of vaccine was released, immunizations were not available.
This latest news has given new currency to some swine flu conspiracy rumours that began circling the globe faster than the virus did in 2009. One of the longest standing theories holds that the pandemic was created by pharmaceutical companies who stood to profit from making the vaccine to curb the virus.
The WHO maintains that its procedures require experts to declare conflicts of interest. The agency did not say whether or not it would investigate any violation of these policies. The WHO attributes its warnings about the pandemic to have reduced the number of deaths from the virus. Poland, the only European nation to refuse to purchase the vaccine, has reported 145 deaths caused by the virus.
More about World health organization, H1n1, Flu pandemic, Council europe, Glaxo-kline-smith
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