Maybe It Really is About Money

Found an editorial from the British Medical Journal in 2010 about the other flu pandemic H1N1 which went from panic to nothing, with billions made in the background.

“Meanwhile drug companies have banked vast profitsÑ$7bn (£4.8bn; {euro}5.7bn) to $10bn from vaccines alone according to investment bank JP Morgan.1 Given the scale of public cost and private profit, it would seem important to know that WHO’s key decisions were free from commercial influence.
 
An investigation by the BMJ and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, published this week (doi:10.1136/bmj.c2912), finds that this was far from the case.2 As reported by Deborah Cohen and Philip Carter, some of the experts advising WHO on the pandemic had declarable financial ties with drug companies that were producing antivirals and influenza vaccines. As an example, WHO’s guidance on the use of antivirals in a pandemic was authored by an influenza expert who at the same time was receiving payments from Roche, the manufacturer of oseltamivir (Tamiflu), for consultancy work and lecturing. Although most of the experts consulted by WHO made no secret of their industry ties in other settings, WHO itself has so far declined to explain to what extent it knew about these conflicts of interest or how it managed them.
 
This lack of transparency is compounded by the existence of a secret “emergency committee,” which advised the director general Margaret Chan on when to declare the pandemicÑa decision that triggered costly pre-established vaccine contracts around the world. Curiously, the names of the 16 committee members are known only to people within WHO.
 
Cohen and Carter’s findings resonate with those of other investigations, most notably an inquiry by the Council of Europe, which reports this week and is extremely critical of WHO.1 It concludes that decision making around the influenza A/H1N1 crisis has been lacking in transparency.
 
One of its chief protagonists is Paul Flynn, a UK member of parliament and a member of the council’s Parliamentary Assembly. He and others raised concerns last year about the lack of evidence to justify the scale of the international response to H1N1 (as also covered in the BMJ in December3), and the lack of transparency around the decision making process for declaring the pandemic.1

1 Comment

  1. Or maybe it’s just God thinning the herd. Better than a world wide flood.

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