Swine-Flu is a Man-Made Panic..

My new piece on swine-flu is up at Lew Rockwell.

Please note, I have it as Harold Varnus in the piece. It should be Varmus, as in my previous blog post on the subject. In my defense, I wrote it mostly in very dim light…

“The latest in the barrage of media reports on swine flu is a Bloomberg news report (August 25, 2009) that it might hospitalize 1.8 million patients in the US and over-burden hospital intensive care units.

This comes from a planning scenario released by the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology

The Bloomberg story cites some theatrical numbers:

  • Half of the US population infected (that is, over 150 million people)
  • 300,000 people in hospital intensive care units
  • 30–90,000 people dead
  • By-pass surgery emergency operations disrupted

But hidden in paragraph 5 of the Bloomberg piece is the most pertinent part:

These numbers are only “scenario projections” that were “developed from models put together for planning purposes only,” says a Centers for Disease Control spokesman.

So.

  • Statistical projections.
  • Projections from models of past pandemics. (And not the past, as in 1968 or 1957, but way back, as in 1918.)
  • Projections developed for planning purposes only.

That’s three stages removed from anything you could call reality.

But perish this tenuous link with facts, PCAST wants Obama to rush through vaccine production so that 40 million people can be infect – er – injected by mid-September.

And who should make that decision?

A doctor? The surgeon-general? A medical team?

Why, the homeland security adviser!

That’s John Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia, deputy executive director of the CIA under George Tenet, and the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (CTC) from 2004 to 2005 during the exact period when the CIA became most heavily involved in torture practices in Iraq and elsewhere.”

Note:

I wanted to state here that my social views are quite liberal, and I do not have any objection to voluntary family planning and contraception. I’m also firmly pro-choice. And in terms of the environment, I support far greater consideration by each of us, as individuals and as communities, for animal life, nature, and conservation.

But those are my personal views. Putting the legal and physical force of the corporate- state behind those preferences, in the form that Holdren apparently thinks will work, is, in my view, completely misguided.

Factory Farms and Swine Flu

I’ve been listening unmoved to all the hysteria about swine flu, feeling skeptical about some of the reporting. There was, after all, a 1976 swine-flu epidemic that never was, according to a piece by Patrick de Justo in Salon.

There’s no clear evidence of how this thing was triggered or how bad it is, but already the government is stocking up from the drug companies. You’ve got to wonder if all the alarmism isn’t just a distraction from the financial shenanigans in DC.  And if it will just provide another excuse to clamp down on the population.To wit., the Massachusetts Senate passed a bill on April 28 that would let the public health commissioner  “close or evacuate buildings, enter private property for investigations, and quarantine individuals” during an emergency, as well as impose fines of up to$1000 for not complying with public health orders. [Credit to Rady Ananda for providing the link].

Someone, somewhere is making a few bucks off those vaccines – you can be sure of that.

The New Scientist doubts that this is a genetically-engineered virus that was accidentally (or, as some cynics write, purposefully) let loose in the population. Swine-flu might still be man-made, it concedes, but the culprits are more likely to be factory-farms:

(New Scientist):

“Animal vaccines might seem like the answer, but vaccines that do not provide 100% protection can actually make things worse. When there is widespread vaccination, viruses can spread without any visible disease. Ineffective vaccines also create strong selective pressure driving the evolution of new strains that can dodge the immune attack provoked by the vaccine.

Already, attention is turning to the big pig farms in Mexico, and the role they may have played in creating this new strain of swine flu.

The fact is that we still know so little about flu, and what makes it capable of spreading from human to human, means that deliberately engineering a virus of this kind would be a huge challenge. Yes, it’s possible that this virus was created by a mistake at a research laboratory or a vaccine factory.

But by far the most plausible explanation is that this monster is the long-predicted product of our farming system....”

_________________________

Update: Here’s Ron Paul, as usual right on the money, cautioning against the scare-mongering and pointing out that last time around 25 people died of the vaccine, while only 1 person died from the flu itself. And 500 people also developed Guillane Barre syndrome, a serious neurological disorder.

Update: From The Independent, UK:

“Q What defence do we have against swine flu?

A Better than we did against the last pandemics in 1957 and 1968. We have a stockpile of anti-viral drugs – Tamiflu and Relenza – which we did not have then. We also have a pandemic plan, drawn up by the Government since avian flu became a threat in 2003, which sets out what is to be done – from distributing the drugs and setting up helplines to closing schools and banning public events.

Q Has the pandemic plan ever been tested?

A Yes, in one of the biggest emergency planning exercises since the end of the Cold War that took place in 2007. It involved hundreds of health officials across the country.

Q Are there enough anti-viral drugs?

A Not according to the Tories. The Government says it has over 30 million courses of the drugs, enough for half the population. The Tories say this is not enough if family members of an infected person are to be treated prophylactically. In that case, enough drugs to cover three-quarters of the population will be necessary, they say….”

My Comment:

That’s a lot of drugs. And a lot of money for the drug manufacturers. Food for thought…