Will Avian Flu be the Next Pandemic?
Ok, so I am focusing on health issues lately. That's because I have an interest in health. Get over it or read something else.
Every year about this time we start to hear all kinds of alarmist reports about the next pandemic of flu that is about to hit and decimate the world's population and cause havoc in the chaos that already exists. I don't doubt that flu poses a threat to those who have a suppressed immune system due to malnutrition, improper eating habits, lack of exercise, lack of sanitary conditions, etc. However the media and the flu flunkeys from Big Pharma like to hyperventilate about the dangers of flu, especially when they look at the big $$ to be made from getting everyone on the flu vaccine.
I am pasting a post complete with references from Sheri Tenpenny below. Read it and then re-evaluate what you have been hearing in the mainstream news. Then make a decision as to whether or not it is worth getting that flu shot. Incidentally, though this is purely anecdotal, a lot of the people that I know who get the flu shot end up getting sick with flu-like symptoms soon afterwards. Mere coincidence?
Eliminating Bird Flu Fears:
10 Facts You Need To Know
By Red Flags Columnist, Sherri Tenpenny, DO
The concerns about avian influenza, a.k.a. bird flu, seem to have the entire world in an uproar. More than 150 million domestic ducks and chickens have been sacrificed throughout Southeast Asia, China, Russia and Eastern Europe in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. Billions of dollars are being allocated to the development of a new “pandemic” vaccine and the stockpiling of two drugs, Tamiflu and Relenza, which are touted to “treat” the infection. The hysteria in the United States has risen to the point where President George Bush allocated resources toward preparing to use the military to enforce quarantines and perhaps even to enforce mandatory vaccination.
What is really going on? Is a pandemic going to develop that will stop all commerce for months and put an end to Western civilization as we know it? (1) What tactics are being used to scare us into believing these measures are necessary?
A level-headed examination of 10 important facts shows that the prevailing alarmist point of view is inaccurate, irresponsible and self-serving.
1. The death rate from H5N1 infection is highly overstated.
Between Dec. 26, 2003 and Oct. 24, 2005, there were 121 confirmed H5N1 infections and, of those, 62 have reportedly died. That makes the “apparent” death rate just over 51 percent, ranking this infection among the most deadly on record.
However, thousands of mild and asymptomatic cases are going undetected as detailed by Dick Thompson, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization (WHO). In an interview granted to CIDRAP (Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy) News on March 9, 2005, Thompson said that the case-fatality rate had been overstated. Documented cases were those where the patients were sick enough to seek medical care in a hospital and, predictably, they had very poor outcomes. He concluded, “Surely others were infected and either not getting sick or not getting sick enough to seek treatment at a hospital. Factoring those into the CFR [case-fatality rate] has been impossible. We simply don't know the denominator.” (2)
To illustrate, if 62 people died, but 10,000 had actually been infected, the death rate would be 0.62 percent, essentially insignificant. Therefore, without knowing how many are infected, the death rate is being highly inflated
2. The virus has barely infected humans; significantly, there has been no sustained person-to-person transmission of the infection.
Very few cases of severe human infection by H5N1 have occurred. An intensified surveillance of patients in Southeast Asia has led to the discovery of mild cases, more infections in older adults, and an increased number of “clusters cases” among family members, suggesting that “the local virus strains may be adapting to humans.” In other words, humans are developing their own innate resistance to the virus. (3)
In addition, all cases have occurred via animal-to-human transmission, and there is documentation of only one confirmed case of human-to-human transmission. Without sustained transmission between humans — meaning one person spreads it to another and another, and so on — there can be no pandemic. The “hype” that, sooner or later, the H5N1 strain will mutate into a strain that can be easily passed between humans is completely unsubstantiated. Whether this will happen is nothing more than a guess because:
3. We have had “potential pandemics” before.
In February 2003, Thompson of the WHO revealed that “there have been a half dozen pandemic ‘false alarms’ in the last 30 years.” A false alarm is an outbreak where a virus has jumped the species barrier, but has been confined to one or two people and has not been lethal. (4)
What makes H5N1 particularly significant? Why is this virus gaining the attention of the world? The attention may be due not to its potentially lethal effects on humans, but rather to the deaths of millions of domestic birds, infected or not. Could this be about commerce? Is this a global economic crisis in the making, but not a global health crisis?
4. Tamiflu does not treat the flu and it is unknown if it will stop the spread of the infection.
Clinical trials with Tamiflu have shown that the drug reduces acute symptoms of flu by a maximum of 2.5 days, depending on the subgroup analyzed. That’s it: 2.5 days. In addition, viral shedding in nasal secretions was reduced after Tamiflu had been administered. Although this would presumably lessen the exposure risk for close contacts, this theory has not been tested. (5)
5. The virus is already becoming resistant to Tamiflu.
Recent human isolates are fully resistant to older, less expensive influenza drugs, amantadine and rimantadine. (6) In addition, a high-level of resistance to Tamiflu has been detected in up to 16 percent of children with human influenza A (H1N1). Not surprisingly, this resistant variant has been detected recently in several patients with H5N1 infection who were treated with Tamiflu. (7)
In addition, nearly seven percent of people who are prescribed Tamiflu can’t tolerate the side effect: persistent nausea. So, at nearly $100 for a course of treatment, you might want to save your money and spend it on saline nasal spray, which is at least as effective. (8)
6. The other newly recommended drug, Relenza, isn’t much better.
Relenza is a powder, which is inhaled twice a day for five days from a breath-activated plastic device called a Diskhaler. Some patients have had bronchospasm (wheezing) or serious breathing problems when they used Relenza.
In fact, in January 2000, the FDA issued a warning about prescribing Relenza after some users reported deterioration of respiratory function following its inhalation. Particular concern was expressed for patients with underlying asthma or emphysema. The FDA stated that “an acute decline in respiratory function may contribute to a fatal outcome in patients with a complicated pre-existing medical history and pulmonary compromise.” (9)
7. The “seed virus” produced by the WHO and given to the vaccine manufacturers may not be the correct virus.
In February 2005, the WHO developed several H5N1 prototype vaccine strains in accordance with the requirements of national and international pharmaceutical licensing agencies for influenza vaccine production. These H5N1 prototype strains were made available to institutions and companies working to develop the pandemic vaccines. (10)
By October 2005, the WHO had evidence that the virus had evolved and is now “genetically distinguishable” — i.e., different — from the prototype strain selected for vaccine development. In what can only be described as a case study in bureaucratic thinking, the WHO, in spite of the new information, does not recommend changing the strain.
In any case, it will take another 4 to 18 months before the vaccine is ready for mass dissemination. As Nancy Cox, director of the influenza branch at the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) stated, "If we don't get a good match, the vaccine will be less effective, producing illness, hospitalizations and death." (11) By that time, will the “vaccine virus” show any resemblance to the “pandemic virus” thought to be in circulation then? If it is appreciably different, how can mandatory vaccination be justified?
8. Who benefits the most? Big Pharma.
Millions in grants and tax incentives to develop new products. Guaranteed purchase orders from governments here and abroad. Complete product liability protection. It doesn’t get any better for a product manufacturer, and in this case, all the benefits go to Chiron, Sanofi-Aventis and GlaxoSmithKline, the “big boys” in the market for making the new vaccine. With a global population of more than six billion, the market share is large enough to get their attention. Add in the financial incentives, and the developers are off and running.
To add an additional layer of protection, on Oct. 18, 2005, Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) and Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced and fast-tracked a bill that would create a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) called the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA). This new agency would help “spur private industry to develop and manufacture medical countermeasures for bioterrorism agents and natural outbreaks.”
However, the dark side of S.1873, the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2005, is that it would exempt the pharmaceutical industry not only from liability, but would also ensure that no one would have access to data documenting medical failures or catastrophes. BARDA would be exempt from access by the Freedom of Information Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act and parts of the Federal Acquisition Regulations. It would act in total secrecy and protection from the general public by the federal government. (12)
Fortunately, the scientific community is standing up loudly against the formation of the new agency. The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, a coalition of independent member societies and scientists, which has historically shown particular interest in public policy issues relating to science, weighed in to voice several concerns. In a letter to Chairman Burr, dated Oct. 18, 2005, the coalition’s president, Bruce Bistrian, MD, PhD, wrote the following:
“On behalf of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), a coalition of 23 scientific societies representing more than 65,000 scientists, I am writing to express our reservations over your recent proposal to create the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency (BARDA)….”
“FASEB is troubled over the impact this new agency might have on existing programs at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control, particularly in an era of limited funding for domestic discretionary spending. NIH and the dozens of universities and research institutions around the country where NIH-supported research is performed already have the scientific expertise and research infrastructure in place to carry out the bioterrorism research that our nation needs. Our concern is that BARDA would duplicate, constrain or even eliminate these programs. Moreover, while implementing a ‘top-down’ approach to research, as described in the BARDA proposal, may be suitable for the manufacturing stage of development, we do not believe it is an appropriate substitute for hypothesis-driven basic research, which has historically led to the most important advances in biomedical science.” (Emphasis added). (13)
Hopefully, other organizations and the general public will follow suit and fight to oppose this bill.
9. Who has the most to lose? The citizens of the world, particularly U.S. citizens.
The Global Pandemic Preparedness Plan is nothing more than a power grab for the government, the United Nations (UN) and the WHO. Buried deep within the WHO’s plan, here is a glimpse of the ominous plans in preparation for “affected countries:”
Activate procedures to obtain additional resources; consider invoking emergency powers.
Activate overarching national command and control of response activities, either by formal means or de facto (close oversight of district and local activities).
Deploy operational response teams across all relevant sectors. (14)
Global control and UN peacekeepers may be coming soon to a neighborhood near you.
10. What you need to do
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the avian influenza virus is easier to destroy than other influenza viruses. It appears that it is very sensitive to detergents — i.e., soap — which destroy the outer fat-containing layer of the virus. This layer is needed to enter cells of animals and, therefore, destroys the infectivity. In other words, when you have been in public places, use soap to wash your hands before touching your face. (15)
Congress is attempting to shield Pharma completely from responsibility and then hide the resulting problems through the fast-tracking of S.1873. Contact your senators immediately to try to stop the passage of this bill. For quick access to the bill, and what to do, go to www.nvic.org and click on “Senate Alert” at the top of the page.
Don’t get caught up in the hype. For daily updates and developing action plans, go to www.BirdFluHype.com and stay informed.
Preparing for the Next Pandemic by Michael T. Osterholm. Foreign Affairs, July/August 2005. www.foreignaffairs.org)
Relatives of avian flu patients have asymptomatic cases, by Robert Roos. CIDRAP News. March 9, 2005. http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/avianflu/news/mar0905asymp.html
Beigel, JH. Avian influenza A (H5N1) infection in humans. N Engl J Med. Sept. 29, 2005;353(13):1374-85.
The Scientist-Online www.The-Scientist.com/news/20030227/04
Stiger, G. The treatment of influenza with antiviral drugs. CMAJ. Jan. 7, 2003;168(1):49-56. PMID: 12515786
Li KS, Guan Y, Wang J, et al. Genesis of a highly pathogenic and potentially pandemic H5N1 influenza virus in eastern Asia. Nature 2004;430:209-13.
Avian Flu Virus Showing Resistance to Tamiflu by Katrina Woznicki. MedPageToday. Sept. 30, 2005. http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/PublicHealth/tb/1850
Spray used for asthma may help slow spread of infections. Asso. Press. 11-29-04. http://www.ajc.com/news/content/health/1104/30spray.html
FDA Public Health Advisory. Jan. 12, 2000. http://www.fda.gov/cder/drug/advisory/influenza.htm
WHO. Recommended H5N1 prototype strains for influenza pandemic vaccine development remain the same. Oct. 28, 2005. http://www.who.int/csr/disease/avian_influenza/statement_2005_10_28/en/print.html
Breakdowns Mar Flu Shot Program Production, distribution delays raise fears of nation vulnerable to epidemic. SF Chronicle. Sunday, Feb. 25, 2001. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2001/02/25/MN12226.DTL
For more information and complete version of SB 1873, go to www.NVIC.org
FASEB letter. http://www.faseb.org/opa/PDF/Barda_letterhead10.18.05.pdf
WHO. Pandemic Preparedness Plan. p 30. http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/influenza/WHO_CDS_CSR_GIP_2005_5.pdf
FAO. Special report on Avian Influenza.