June 15, 2009

WEIRD SCIENCE:

WHO's Convenient �Pandemic� (Michael Fumento, June 14, 2009, The Los Angeles Times)

How bizarre! The World Health Organization has declared swine flu a "pandemic," signaling governments worldwide to launch emergency response plans.

The mildest pandemics of the 20th century killed at least a million people worldwide, according to the WHO, while old-fashioned seasonal flu strikes every nation yearly and kills an estimated 250,000 to 500,000. As of Thursday, when the pandemic was declared, H1N1 swine flu had killed only 144 people total — fewer than succumb daily to seasonal flu annually. And in Mexico, where the outbreak began and where it has been the most severe, cases peaked quickly, in just four weeks.

A pandemic declaration will be costly when we can least afford it and could prompt severe restrictions on human activities (think China). Perhaps most important, such a declaration could render the term "flu pandemic" essentially meaningless — risking lethal public complacency if a bona fide one hits.

So how can the WHO say swine flu qualifies as a pandemic? And why?

The WHO definition for "influenza pandemic" once required "several, simultaneous epidemics worldwide with enormous numbers of deaths and illness." But in 2005, it promulgated a definition that virtually ignores the number of cases and completely ignores deaths.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 15, 2009 6:07 AM
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