This article, published on February 5, 2010, originally appeared on Forbes (a global media company). It was removed sometime in mid-October 2020 without explanation. You can find a backed up version of the Forbes article thanks to archive.org here.
The World Health Organization
The WHO is accused of deliberately feeding the swine flu hysteria. “The world is living through a real pandemic. Describing it as fake is false and irresponsible,” the agency claimed on its website. A WHO spokesman declined to specify who or what that “description” came from, but the chief accuser is hard to ignore.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), a human rights watchdog, is publicly investigating the WHO’s motives in declaring a pandemic. Indeed, the chairman of the influential health committee, epidemiologist Wolfgang Wodarg, has declared that the “false pandemic” is “one of the biggest medical scandals of the century”.
Even within the agency, Dr. Ulrich Kiel, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Epidemiology in Münster, Germany, has essentially called the pandemic a hoax. “We are witnessing a gigantic misallocation of resources [$18 billion so far] in terms of public health,” he said.
You are right. It wasn’t just an over-caution or a simple miscalculation. The declaration of the pandemic and all the subsequent posturing reflect sheer dishonesty, motivated not by medical concerns but by political ones.
Without a doubt, swine flu has proven to be much milder than ordinary seasonal flu. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that it kills at only one-third to one-tenth the normal rate. Data from other countries such as France and Japan suggest it is far tamer than that.
Judging from what we’ve seen in New Zealand and Australia (where the epidemics have ended), and from what we’re seeing elsewhere in the world, we’ll have significantly fewer flu deaths this season than usual. That’s because swine flu is displacing seasonal flu and acting as a kind of vaccine against the much deadlier strain.
Did the WHO have any indication of this leniency when it declared the pandemic in June?
Absolutely, as I wrote at the time. At that moment, the pandemic was already 11 weeks old, and swine flu had claimed only 144 lives worldwide – the same number that a person dies every few hours from seasonal flu. (An estimated 250,000 to 500,000 a year, according to WHO’s own figures.) The mildest pandemics of the 20th century killed at least a million people.
But how could the organization declare a pandemic when its own official definition called for “simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and sick people.” Severity – the number of deaths – is crucial, because flu causes “a global spread of disease every year.”
It is simple. In May, presumably in direct response to the previous month’s swine flu outbreak, the WHO announced a new adjusted definition of swine flu that simply eliminates severity as a factor. Now you could have a pandemic with zero deaths.
The criticism is that the organisation has brazenly lied about the change, which anyone with an internet connection can confirm. In a virtual conference in mid-January, WHO swine flu manager Keiji Fukuda asked, “Has WHO changed its definition of pandemic?” The answer was “No: WHO has not changed its definition”. Two weeks later, at a PACE conference, he insisted: “Having severe deaths was never part of the WHO definition.”
This was partly a precautionary measure for the WHO. The agency lost all credibility when it refused to turn H5N1 bird flu into a pandemic that ultimately killed up to 150 million people worldwide, as its “flu czar” predicted in 2005.
Around the world, nations heeded the warnings and spent huge sums on vaccine development and other preparations. Then, when swine flu emerged, the WHO crossed out the word “bird flu” and inserted the word “swine flu,” and WHO Director-General Margaret Chan arrogantly boasted: “The world can now reap the rewards of the last five years’ investment in pandemic preparedness.”
But there is more than bureaucratic self-interest at work here. Bizarrely, the WHO has also exploited its fake pandemic to advance a hard-left political agenda.
In a speech in September, WHO Director-General Chan said that “health ministers” should exploit the “devastating impact” of swine flu on poorer countries to spread the message that “changes in the way the global economy works” are needed to distribute “prosperity based on” values “such as community, solidarity, equality and social justice.” She went on to explain that it should be used as a weapon against “international politics and the systems that govern financial markets, the economy, trade and foreign policy.”
Chan’s dream is now in ruins. All WHO has done, says PACE’s Wodart, is “destroy a lot of the credibility it should have, which is invaluable to us if there is a future scare that could turn out to be a killer on a large scale.”