WHO KNEW: WHAT, WHEN & WHERE
NATIONAL TERROR ALERT
Homeland Security News
Swine Flu – U.S. Declares Public Health Emergency
April 26, 2009
Swine Flu – Outbreak in Mexico, U.S. Tied To New Unique Strain
MSNBC Reports Outbreak in Mexico, U.S. Tied To New Swine Flu The unique strain of swine flu found in seven people in California and Texas has been connected to the deadly flu that has broken out in Mexico, killing as many as 60 people, NBC News has confirmed. The strain has never been seen before and is raising fears of a possible pandemic across North America.
The World Health Organization said it was concerned at what it called hundreds of “influenza-like” cases in Mexico, and also about the confirmed outbreak of the new strain of swine flu in the United States. The World Health Organisation said there are 800 suspected swine flu cases in Mexico and seven cases reported in the southwestern United States.
It was not immediately clear whether Mexican authorities had identified the outbreak as that of swine flu, as labeled by the WHO....
Tests in Mexico found patients were infected with H1N1 and type-B influenza strains and the parainfluenza virus.... In the U.S., doctors discovered a new strain of H1N1 swine influenza in patients in San Diego County and Imperial County, California, and in San Antonio, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said today. “It will be critical to determine whether or not the strains of H1N1 isolated from patients in Mexico are also swine flu,” Donald Low, an infectious diseases specialist at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital, told the Canadian Press. Authorities in Mexico asked the Public Health Agency of Canada to help identify the cause of the lung illness linked to 20 deaths, including two in the state of Baja California Norte, which borders California.
*see bottom of page for danger of the VACCINES
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the United States’ emergency declaration “standard operating procedure,” and said she would rather call it a “declaration of emergency preparedness.” “It’s like declaring one for a hurricane,” she said. “It means we can release funds and take other measures. The hurricane may not actually hit.”
The emergency declaration in the United States lets the government free more money for antiviral drugs and give some previously unapproved tests and drugs to children. One-quarter of the national stockpile of 50 million courses of antiflu drugs will be released.
Biotechnology Company, Replikins Ltd., Provided Advance Warning in April 2008 of Mexican H1N1 'Swine Flu' Virus Outbreak
Mon Apr 27, 2009
BOSTON, April 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Replikins Ltd. published a FluForecast(R) warning in April 7th, 2008, a year before the recent Mexico and California H1N1 cases. The company was able to state the likelihood of H1N1 outbreaks based on its patented Replikin Count(TM) genomics technology, which examine specific regions in virus genes which have been linked with past epidemics.
The April 2008 announcement, attached below as published on the Web, stated that in H1N1 the company had then detected the highest concentrations of these specific regions ever seen, except for those from the 1918 pandemic which killed millions of people. Today, the company is actively pursuing licensing partnerships to apply its groundbreaking technology not only to early warning systems, but also to the development of synthetic vaccines to prevent or slow future epidemics.
A synthetic H1N1 Replikins Vaccine is available for testing. A similar synthetic Replikin Vaccine has been shown to successfully block the entry of H5N1 virus into, replication in, and excretion from chickens. The company is able to produce these vaccines in as little as 7 days, rather than the many months needed for traditional vaccines, because they are synthesized at the peptide level.
The following is the text of the April 2008 release in which Replikins was able to pinpoint the high risk of H1N1 outbreaks:
H1N1 Influenza Virus with Highest Replikin Count(TM) Since the 1918 Pandemic Identified in the U.S. and Austria
The original release can be found at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/103052.php and
among other sites.
This release was issued through eReleases(TM). For more information, visit http://www.ereleases.com.
SOURCE Replikins, Ltd. Contact: John McKenney tel: 617-536-0220 email@example.com
Swine Flu Sweeping Across Mexico into U.S.
25 April 2009
A deadly strain of swine flu is sweeping across Mexico and has already spread to bordering states in America, as well. Mexican health officials are sounding the alarm as the spread of the disease is described by the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), a United Nations agency, as approaching “pandemic levels.” More than 68 people have died in this outbreak of swine flu and at least a thousand more are suffering from the concomitant illnesses...
Scientists are struggling to identify the disease, describing it as a new strain of the virus that is a deadly mixture of pig, human, and bird influenza genes. To better understand the new disease, virologists and pathologists from around the world convened a meeting on Saturday in Geneva to share insights and test results aimed at containing and eventually eradicating this new killer...
The rapid spread of the disease and its diagnosis in people from Texas and California have dismayed officials at the WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and have dampened hope that the disease could be readily and rapidly contained. Panic, confusion, anger, and fear are spreading through Mexico as rapidly as is the swine flu that foments these feelings. At hospitals throughout the country, many wait anxiously for test results praying that the cough or fever from which they or their loved ones suffer are only symptomatic of the normal, treatable influenza virus and not the new and fatal form. A genetically mutated strain of swine flu that for good reason has thousands of Mexicans, Americans, and potentially millions worldwide, panicking in fear of contracting an extremely communicable and as yet incurable disease.
Swine Flu Prompts Mexico Shut-down, U.S. Stockpiling of Supplies
April 30, 2009
Mexico is preparing for a temporary shut down of all non-essential services from May 1 to May 5, in an attempt to slow the spread of the swine flu that is believed to have killed as many as 176 people in the country.... Mexican President Felipe Calderon said in a televised address Wednesday night that only essential businesses like supermarkets, hospitals and pharmacies would stay open. Police and soldiers will be on duty. "There will be no government activities that are not fundamental for citizens - nor any private-sector activities that are not fundamental to common life," Calderon said. The announcement came hours after the World Health Organization upped its pandemic alert level to a five out of six, warning that a pandemic is imminent....
School in Mexico had already been canceled nationwide through Tuesday, and some schools in the U.S., where the number of confirmed cases continues to grow daily, are following suit.
As of midday Wednesday, the latest national accounting available, about 100 of the nation's 132,000 schools had closed, reported the AP.U.S. federal health officials said Thursday the number of confirmed cases had risen to 109. President Barack Obama told citizens in a press conference marking his 100th day in office Wednesday night that the government "is prepared to do whatever it takes to control the impact of this virus. Mr. Obama said his administration is stock piling needed medical supplies and praised past planning efforts by the Bush administration for the 50 million doses of antiviral medications that are on hand for this emergency. However President Obama said closing the border with Mexico " would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out, because we already have cases here in the United States"...
Vice President Joe Biden said on NBC's "Today" show Thursday that he was telling family not to fly or take the subway for health safety reasons, but within hours his office released a statement saying he was referring to travel to Mexico.
Newly-confirmed U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said preparations are continuing for a possible vaccine for the H1N1 virus."Manufacturers are on the alert," Sebelius said, reported Bloomberg. "Once the testing protocol is done and the dosage protocol is done they are ready to begin production, should that be necessary."Continuing the process towards a vaccine has been encouraged by the WHO. Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO assistant director-general also told reporters Swiss drug maker Roche will step up production of Tamiflu to deal with the infection. He also said the pandemic alert will not be raised to a level six right away...
Roche Exec Warns of Flu Pandemic
Avian flu threat very real
April 21, 2008
George Abercrombie, head of Roche’s North American operations, says an avian flu pandemic still threatens the world, and discusses access to Roche’s drug Tamiflu, the main flu antidote
US reviews risks of Tamiflu after 12 children die -"18 Nov 2005 .. safety of Tamiflu questioned for the second time in a week following reports that it has been linked to the ..."
Tamiflu, Relenza Need New Warnings, U.S. Panel Says..."27 Nov 2007 ... Tamiflu added a precaution about these risks last November, and regulators have identified similar reports in Relenza patients since then. ..."www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=ack89tMid6.A
Swine flu test results are unreliable, WHO warns
June 10, 2009
The rRT-PCR testing method was developed by the global pharmaceutical giant Roche - the company that also owns the rights to Tamiflu, one of just two anti-viral drugs used to treat the virus.
The latest information from the World Health Organisation, supported by the US Food and Drug Administration, suggests the newly developed rRT-PCR "rapid" testing method gives only a "presumptive positive" rather than a "definitive positive" result for H1N1 influenza. In April, the FDA issued an emergency use authorisation to allow a "rapid" form of the method to be rushed to laboratories across the US to combat a potential swine flu epidemic, even though the method had not been fully developed or obtained approval. A document released by the FDA on April 28 states only that rRT-PCR swine flu testing "may be effective" in testing for swine flu. The FDA report states that "a positive result indicates that the patient is presumptively infected with swine flu virus, but not the stage of infection", and that "a negative result does not, by itself, exclude the possibility of swine flu virus infection". The WHO has issued its protocols for using the test method to laboratories around the world. That document states tests can provide only a "presumptive positive" result for swine flu.
Baxter to work to contain Mexico flu outbreak
April 25, 2009
Deerfield-based medical product giant Baxter International Inc. is working with the World Health Organization on a potential vaccine to curb the spread of the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, the company confirmed today. Baxter, which has a growing vaccine business, has worked with foreign countries in the past to develop vaccines for the H5N1 virus commonly known as bird flu. Baxter has a cell-based technology that allows the company to more rapidly produce vaccines in the event of a pandemic than a decades-old method that uses eggs to process vaccines and can take weeks or even months longer. "Upon learning about the swine flu outbreak in Mexico yesterday, Baxter requested a virus sample from WHO to do laboratory testing for potentially developing an experimental vaccine," company spokesman Christopher Bona told the Tribune this afternoon. "Baxter has research and development and manufacturing pandemic planning expertise to rapidly develop candidate vaccines against potentially emerging influenza viruses." In the past, Baxter has developed vaccines and worked with countries to stockpile vaccines even while they undergo experimental testing. The idea behind the government stockpiles, in the case of the bird flu, for example, is to prepare against outbreak. The company would not say whether the U.S. or other countries have contacted Baxter....
Swine Flu May Be a Human Error From Vaccine Production
Source Bloomberg May 13, 2009
The World Health Organization is investigating a claim by Australian researcher Adrian Gibbs, who says that the swine flu virus circling the globe may have been created as a result of human error. Gibbs, who collaborated on research that led to the development of Tamiflu, said in an interview that he intends to publish a report suggesting the new strain may have accidentally evolved in eggs scientists use to grow viruses and drugmakers use to make vaccines. Gibbs said he came to his conclusion as part of an effort to trace the virus’s origins by analyzing its genetic blueprint. “One of the simplest explanations is that it’s a laboratory escape,” Gibbs said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. “But there are lots of others.”
Gibbs, who has studied germ evolution for four decades, is one of the first scientists to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus.
Swine flu may have started in US
May 3, 2009
A US health official on Saturday did not rule out the possibility that the swine flu outbreak may have originated in California. "As we do our investigations here in the US, we may find that there were cases earlier," US Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) spokesman Scott Bryan told AFP. Several cases of infection were reported in California before the outbreak in Mexico... Bryan noted that from December 2005 to January 2009, there were 12 atypical strains tested at the CDC that had the virus....
The first case...[of the] potentially deadly virus is a hybrid drawn from strains found in pigs, birds and humans... discovered in California was a 10-year-old boy in San Diego County, which borders Mexico, who became ill on March 30 -- before the outbreak in Mexico, The Wall Street Journal reported. A throat swab taken from the boy was sent for analysis to the CDC, which received samples on April 13 and determined the cause to be swine flu.
In a second case, a nine-year-old girl from a nearby California county was treated for a cough and a high fever on March 28. On April 17, tests confirmed that the girl did have the new virus strain, the Journal reported. The children, who had not traveled to Mexico or come into contact with swine, have since recovered.
Swine Flu Severity Worse in Mexico than U.S.
Mike Stobbe, Associated Press
Why has the swine flu engulfing Mexico been deadly there, but not in the United States? Nearly all those who died in Mexico were between 20 and 40 years old, and they died of severe pneumonia from a flu-like illness believed caused by a unique swine flu virus.The 11 U.S. victims cover a wider age range, as young as 9 to over 50. All those people either recovered or are recovering; at least two were hospitalized. "So far we have been quite fortunate," said Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ...
'SWINE FLU IMPOSSIBLE TO TRACE'
Swine Flu Could Have Started In US: Mexican Health Secretary Jose Angel Cordova
"I think it is very risky to say, or want to say, what the point of origin or dissemination of it is, given that there had already been cases reported in southern California and Texas," Cordova told a press conference.
Swine flu broke out in California: CDC
03 May 2009
The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) said on Saturday that the state [CA] preceded Mexico, the alleged source of the virus, in reporting cases of the affliction. "As we do our investigations here in the US, we may find that there were cases earlier," CDC spokesman, Scott Bryan was quoted by AFP as saying. As early as March, patients San Diego County and California County were diagnosed in California with a new type of viral infection resulting from the A(H1N1) -- the new strain of the swine flu virus, H1N1...The patients had neither been to Mexico nor had they come into contact with pigs....12 suspects had also tested positive for a strange strain from December 2005 to January 2009, Bryan added... About 160 lab-confirmed cases have been reported in 21 US states with one leading to death. Two-thirds of the patients had not had any contact with Mexico
wall street journal info. not picked up to interfere with mass u.s. media fanning racist fear fever propaganda
California Cases Suggest Border Origin
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Doctors tracking swine flu in this state are investigating a new theory: What if it didn't originate in Mexico but instead had been floating around the border region for months Growing evidence in California suggests that early flu cases had no apparent origin in Mexico. Many of the early California victims -- including the first two cases -- say they hadn't traveled to Mexico and had no contact with pigs. Some may have fallen ill before the first Mexicans did. Those cases contradict the conventional understanding of how the strain originated.
Michael Shaw, associate director for laboratory science for the influenza division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the flu theoretically could have appeared first in California, but he cautioned against drawing any conclusions since the strain also exhibited genetic characteristics traceable to Eurasia. The first case discovered in California was a 10-year-old boy in San Diego County, who fell ill with a fever March 30. [...] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124113696409275445.html
New flu resembles feared 1918 virus, study finds
Jul 13, 2009
"There is a misunderstanding about this virus," he said in a statement. "There is clear evidence the virus is different than seasonal influenza." Writing in the journal Nature, Kawaoka and colleagues noted that the ability to infect the lungs is a characteristic of other pandemic viruses, especially the 1918 virus, which is estimated to have killed between 40 million and 100 million people....
Other tests showed the virus could be controlled by the antiviral drugs Relenza, made by GlaxoSmithKline and Tamiflu, made by Roche AG the researchers said...Companies working on an H1N1 vaccine include Sanofi-Aventis, Novartis AG, Baxter International Inc, GlaxoSmithKline and nasal spray maker MedImmune, now part of AstraZeneca....
Flu victim exhumed after 85 years
Phyllis Burns was 20 when she died. Scientists are preparing to exhume the body of a woman who died of flu 85 years ago to find out how the virus killed millions across Europe....
Killer flu recreated in the lab
Scientists have shown that tiny changes to modern flu viruses could render them as deadly as the 1918 strain which killed millions. A US team added two genes from a sample of the 1918 virus to a modern strain known to have no effect on mice. Animals exposed to this composite were dying within days of symptoms similar to those found in human victims of the 1918 pandemic. ... The 1918 "Spanish" flu pandemic is estimated to have infected up to one billion people - half the world's population at the time. The virus killed more people than any other single outbreak of disease, surpassing even the Black Death of the Middle Ages. Although it probably originated in the Far East, it was dubbed "Spanish" flu because the press in Spain - not being involved in World War I - were the first to report extensively on its impact.The virus caused three waves of disease. The second of these, between September and December 1918, resulting in the heaviest loss of life. It is thought that the virus may have played a role in ending World War I as soldiers were too sick to fight, and by that stage more men on both sides died of flu than were killed by weapons.
Health Minister, Cardiologist, Says So-Called Swine Flu May be Man Made
05 May 2009
The North American Influenza (or United States Flu) which is wrongly being called `Swine Flu` is apparently man made as pointed out on independent media networks, and Indonesia`s Health Minister confirms this possibility The recent outbreak of so-called Swine Flu has been revealed in several articles on this and other independent news networks, to be man-made according to various experts. This is not the first time attempts to start a man-made pandemic have been launched, with HIV [LINK] [LINK], Bird Flu [LINK], so-called Mad Cow Disease [LINK] [LINK] [LINK], and Syphilis [LINK] among other diseases, all having been deliberately spread by Anglo-American military `research` laboratories.
Singapore and other Asian news networks reported the remarks of Indonesia's Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari that deadly swine flu virus could have been man-made. She urged calm over its spread around the world.... No cases have been reported in Indonesia, the country worst hit by the bird flu virus which killed about 250 people worldwide since 2003....
The minister has refused since 2006 to share all but a handful of Indonesia's bird flu virus samples with WHO researchers, saying the system is being abused by rich countries to develop profitable vaccines which poor countries must buy....
Western controlled media networks have spread the misinformation and misnomer concerning swine flu, which will lead the world's population to the wrong conclusion. "Whilst the man-made killer disease may be made by human swines, the animal pigs have yet to catch it" an observer noted.
Inventory Uncovers 9,200 More Pathogens Missing
An inventory of potentially deadly pathogens at Fort Detrick's infectious disease laboratory found more than 9,000 vials that had not been accounted for, Army officials said yesterday, raising concerns that officials wouldn't know whether dangerous toxins were missing. After four months of searching about 335 freezers and refrigerators at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Frederick, investigators found 9,220 samples that hadn't been included in a database of about 66,000 items listed as of February, said Col. Mark Kortepeter, the institute's deputy commander. The vials contained some dangerous pathogens, among them the Ebola virus, anthrax bacteria and botulinum toxin, and less lethal agents such as Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus and the bacterium that causes tularemia. ...
A-H1N1 Swine Flu Likely Originated in US Lab
By William Sutherland
When the first reported cases of A/H1N1 swine flu emerged in April 2009, it was widely believed that the novel influenza strain originated in Mexico. By late June, when evidence
failed to materialize confirming a Mexican origin, a new theory hypothesized that A/H1N1 originated in Asia and was transported unintentionally via an unsuspecting human carrier to
North America. This though, probably is not the case. Instead it is likely, though not confirmed, that A/H1N1, is a genetically engineered creation that originated in the United States, specifically in a lab in Madison, Wisconsin that accidentally escaped through some kind of contamination. The evidence for this scenario is compelling:
* Prior to the A/H1N1 outbreak, The Institute for Molecular Virology (IMV) located in Bock Labs (administered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison) had been involved in a transmission capability study for vaccine production. This study involved reverse genetic engineering of a tissue specimen that had been extracted from a deceased Intuit woman who had succumbed to Spanish influenza that had killed up to 50 million people during the 1918-19 pandemic.
* The current A/H1N1 version is a "highly unusual virus" never seen before that combines genetic material from North American human, avian, and swine flus and Eurasian swine flu. Such a combination is unprecedented having never been found in pigs, birds, or people per The Associated Press, and likely improbable to have emerged naturally. When the fact that no close relatives of the current strain exist and IMV's mission - to conduct virology research and training at a molecular level - is taken into account, creation through artificial genetic engineering offers the best explanation.
* Retired Australian researcher Adrian Gibbs, who played a leading role in the development of Tamiflu® anti-flu drug, theorized on May 12, 2009 that the new strain of A/H1N1 likely escaped from a laboratory setting because it exhibited characteristics "of having undergone 'accelerated evolution' such as what happens when flu viruses try to adapt to growth in eggs" during vaccine studies. The World Health Organization (WHO) swiftly ruled out Mr. Gibbs' theory a day later, although it is implausible that sufficient research to ascertain a conclusion could be completed in only 24 hours.
When A/H1N1's existence had been firmly established in the United States by May 10, Wisconsin and Illinois had nearly a third of the country's cases. Since then Wisconsin has consistently led the nation despite its population of 5,627,967 based on July 2008 estimates versus the larger states - California, Texas, New York, Illinois and even Michigan with July 2008 populations of 36,755,666, 24,326,974, 19,490,297, 12,901,563 and 10,003,422, respectively. By June 12, 2009 when dispersion had set in, Wisconsin and Illinois still accounted for more than a quarter of U.S. cases. Demographically speaking this disproportionate caseload makes little sense. However, when Madison, WI is viewed as the point of origin, the two-State caseload provides incontrovertible evidence of the virus' inception. When A/H1N1 likely escaped from IMV, it immediately impacted the city's environs and nearby locales including Illinois (since a sizeable number of Wisconsinites commute to that state each day) before spreading to Mexico (likely transmitted by a U.S. national since Granja Carroll hog farms located in La Gloria where the first case of A/H1N1 is believed to have occurred, is a subsidiary of American-based Smithfield Foods), other parts of the United States and ultimately much of the rest of the world.
Centers For Disease Control (CDC) Bulletins:
5/10/2009: Wisconsin: 357 Cases (14.1% of the national caseload); Illinois: 466 Cases (18.4% of the national caseload)
6/12/2009: Wisconsin: 3008 Cases (16.8% of the national caseload); Illinois: 1983 Cases (11.1% of the national caseload)
* To date the A/H1N1 2009 pandemic version of swine flu has not been found to be endemic in global pig stocks discounting natural mutation and initial pig to human transmission theories. Furthermore, none of the pig stocks in Wisconsin have tested positive for the novel A/H1N1 strain that currently afflicts the world.
* Statements and actions point to prior knowledge. As early as April 25, 2009 when the new A/H1N1 strain was officially detected in only 3 states (11 cases), a top CDC official, Dr. Anne Schuchat stated, "We do not think we can contain the spread of this virus." By April 28, 2009 Vice President Joseph Biden ruled out quarantining Mexico citing limited benefits since "the swine flu virus [had] already penetrated many states" (64 cases in 5 states).An immediate quarantine when news of the A/H1N1 outbreak in Mexico surfaced on April 23, 2009 likely was not implemented because the CDC and top U.S. government officials had already been alerted about the accidental escape from IMV and consequent unconfirmed and unreported infections. A quarantine made little sense since cases were rapidly evolving in the United States and because such a step would likely have drawn suspicion when such cases were subsequently confirmed and reported.
* Samples of the new A/H1N1 virus were already present at the CDC prior to receipt of Mexican specimens. Per CDC virologist Ruben Donis in an interview conducted by Science Direct (published April 29, 2009) - the CDC had completed sequencing of the novel A/H1N1 strain two weeks earlier or by April 15, 2009 - three days before Mexican officials shipped swab samples to its Atlanta headquarters for testing.
Based on the facts above, compelling evidence exists that the outbreak of A/H1N1 swine flu that has led to the WHO's first pandemic declaration in 41 years, was created synthetically and likely can be traced back to IMV's lab in Madison, WI. As a result, the moderate risk based on A/H1N1's characteristics and potential threat especially to a generation that has never endured a pandemic and those with pre-existing medical conditions (asthma and other respiratory disorders, diabetes, heart problems, immune deficiency disorders, and pregnancy, to name a few) whose immune systems are ill-prepared or equipped to recognize and combat the novel strain, respectively, must be taken seriously. At the writing of this article, this is not being done (e.g. The New York City Department of Health stated on its website as late as June 25, 2009 - "Most cases of influenza-like illness do not need to be tested for H1N1" even though seasonal influenza has disappeared for the summer, failure to isolate suspected emergency room cases facilitating contagion, etc.). Continued failure to do so may result in between 1 million (based on a .25% mortality rate on existing WHO estimates that up to a third of the world's population may be infected) to 25 million or more deaths since people will be treated much further into the illness (after serious complications have developed) and/or if the virus mutates into a more lethal form resulting in a 1+% mortality rate that is already being exhibited in Argentina, a country that has just entered the winter season.
NATIONAL SECURITY STATE GEOPOLITICAL PLANS, OBSTACLES, OBJECTIVES & TARGETS
GEOSTRATEGIC PLANS FOR 'MEXICO'S POTENTIAL COLLAPSE'
JFCOM's "Joint Operating Environment" (JOE) document, with a forward by JFCOM's chief, U.S. Marine Corps Four-Star General James Mattis, [who] also heads NATO's Allied Command Transformation, drafted by a team of officers and civilians he selected, was signed in mid-November 2008 and posted on the Pentagon's Web site. It has generated protests by the governments of Mexico - whose potential collapse is depicted as a grave threat to U.S. national security...
The crisis is exacting a terrible toll on the country’s economy....officials estimate it is costing businesses $85 million a day in lost revenues... Mexico was already the country most affected in Latin
America by the global financial meltdown, because of its close ties to the United States [digest: e.g. U.S. political-economic dominance]. The maquiladora assembly plants near the border have carried out mass layoffs in response to plummeting demand in the US. Meanwhile, two principal sources of national income, oil and remittances sent home by the nearly 13 million Mexican immigrants in the US, have fallen sharply.
The third, tourism, had suffered a significant decline before the epidemic, but has now been decimated, with the US, the European Union and other countries advising against travel to Mexico. In Europe, the French government has called on the EU to impose a ban on flights to the country. There have already been 2,500 cancellations of visits in group travel alone. In Mexico City, 90 percent of hotel rooms are unoccupied. A decision by the authorities in the capital to close down virtually all places where people gather—restaurants, bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, gyms and athletic clubs—has brought fully one quarter of economic activity in Mexico City to a halt. The city, in turn, accounts for one third of all economic activity nationwide.
Most hard-hit are the 450,000 people working in restaurants and bars, 70 percent of whom have been laid off and left without any income....
Last week, the International Monetary Fund predicted that the country would see its economy contract by 3.7 percent as a result of the deepening world crisis. Banco Mexico on Wednesday said it may shrink by as much as 4.8 percent this year—before the impact of the present health crisis is included. Banamex, Citibank’s Mexican subsidiary, estimated that in the first week since the state of emergency was declared, private consumption in Mexico had suffered a decline of $3.3 billion....
Fifty percent of Granjas Carroll, one of the country’s largest pig farms is owned by the US-based corporation Smithfield Foods, headquartered in Virginia. It produces close to one million pigs annually. Smithfield faced repeated fines and lawsuits over its operations in the US. After its hog waste lagoons overflowed and polluted rivers and streams in North Carolina, the company settled an environmental protection lawsuit in 2000 by agreeing to pay the state $50 million. Residents of Perote have long protested that the pig farm—with its open lakes of pig excrement and toxic chemicals—was destroying the local environment and damaging their health, but to no avail. Local and national officials defended the company, while threatening and prosecuting those who protested. As the Mexican daily La Jornada commented in an editorial earlier this month: “For polluting with its waste, the powerful company, the principal shareholder of Carroll, was fined in the United States. Here, on the other hand, it is permitted to do anything... Moreover, it should be noted how local authorities persecute those who fight for the environment and health.”
Even after the flu outbreak, agents of Mexico’s Federal Agency of Investigations came to Perote to arrest one of the protesters, the peasant Guadalupe Serrano Gaspar. Meanwhile, the company has formally charged others with slander. Smithfield Foods Inc., which is the largest pork producer in the world, issued a statement Sunday claiming that it found no evidence of swine flu among the animals or the workers at its Mexican factory farm. “Smithfield has no reason to believe that the virus is in any way connected to its operations in Mexico,” the company said....
Mexican workers are paying with their lives for a system that has systematically transferred social wealth from the mass of the population to a native ruling elite and its mainly US-based corporate and financial partners http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/apr2009/mexi-a30.shtml
Obama and US commander discuss military intervention in Mexico
March 10, 2009
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen briefed President Barack Obama over the weekend on the so-called drug war in Mexico and the prospect of increased US military involvement in the conflict south of the border. Mullen had just returned from a six-day tour of Latin America, which took him on his last and most important stop to Mexico City. There he held meetings with Mexico's secretary of national defense and other top military officials and discussed proposals for rushing increased US aid to Mexico under the auspices of Plan Merida, a three-year, $1.4 billion package designed to provide equipment, training and other assistance to the Mexican armed forces.
In a telephone press conference conducted as he returned from Mexico, Mullen said that the Pentagon was prepared to help the Mexican military employ the same tactics that US forces have applied in counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The US military, he said, was "sharing a lot of lessons we have learned, how we've developed similar capabilities over the last three or four years in our counterinsurgency efforts as we have fought terrorist networks." He added, "There are an awful lot of similarities."...
In a March 1 television interview, Defense Secretary Robert Gates sounded a similar note, praising Calderon for having "taken on the battle" against drug trafficking by deploying the army and claiming that the "old biases against cooperation" between Mexico and the Pentagon were "being set aside." As a result, Gates added, Washington was prepared to provide the Mexican military "with training, with resources, with reconnaissance and surveillance kinds of capabilities."
The indications of more direct US military involvement follow a growing chorus of official as well as media reports portraying Mexico as a potential "failed state" and a mounting threat to US national security. n its annual report assessing global security threats, the Pentagon's Joint Forces Command lumped Mexico together with Pakistan as countries that "bear consideration for a rapid and sudden collapse." The document added a warning: "Any descent by Mexico into chaos would demand an American response, based on the serious implications for homeland security as well." This was followed by a report released at the US Military Academy in January by retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, who was director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President Bill Clinton. Mexico, he wrote, is "fighting for survival against narco-terrorism" and required greater US intervention.[...] http://www.wsws.org/articles/2009/mar2009/mexi-m10.shtml
ATTEMPTING TO DEMOLISH BOOMERANG EFFECTS
Europe Urges Citizens to Avoid U.S. and Mexico Travel
April 27, 2009
The fear that outbreaks of the flu might severely curtail travel was enough to unnerve markets in Europe and Asia, sending stocks tumbling, particularly shares of airlines and other companies in the travel industry. But Dr. Richard Besser, acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., called the European Union’s advisory against traveling to the United States unwarranted, saying that only 20 cases had been diagnosed here, just one of which required hospitalization....“We’re in a period in which the picture is evolving,” said Dr. Keiji Fukuda, deputy director general of the World Health Organization. “We need to know the extent to which it causes mild and serious infections.” Without that knowledge - which is unlikely to emerge soon because only two laboratories, in Atlanta and Winnipeg, Canada, can confirm a case - his agency’s panel of experts was unwilling to raise the global pandemic alert level, even though it officially saw the outbreak as a public health emergency and opened its emergency response center. President Obama, said on that the outbreak was “a cause for concern” but not alarm...
'Sovereignty' That Risks Global Health
By Richard C. Holbrooke and Laurie A. Garrett , Senior Fellow for Global Health
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/08/AR200808... Op-Ed August 10, 2008
... Indonesia is no longer providing the WHO with timely notification of bird flu outbreaks or human cases. Since 2007, its government has openly defied International Health Regulations and a host of other WHO agreements to which Indonesia is a signatory.
Moreover, the Indonesian government is threatening to close down U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit Two (NAMRU-2), a public health laboratory staffed by Indonesians and U.S. military scientists. NAMRU-2 is one of the world’s best disease surveillance facilities, and it provides health officials worldwide with vital, transparent information. The Indonesian government has accused NAMRU-2 scientists of everything from profiteering off its “sovereign” viruses to manufacturing the H5N1 bird flu in an alleged biological warfare scheme. There is no evidence to support these outlandish claims.
A year ago, Supari’s assertions about “viral sovereignty” seemed to be odd yet individual views. Disturbingly, however, the notion has morphed into a global movement, fueled by self-destructive, anti-Western sentiments. In May, Indian Health Minister A. Ramadoss endorsed the concept in a dispute with Bangladesh. The Non-Aligned Movement—a 112-nation organization that is a survivor of the Cold War era—has agreed to consider formally endorsing the concept of “viral sovereignty” at its November meeting.
In this age of globalization, failure to make viral samples open-source risks allowing the emergence of a new strain of influenza that could go unnoticed until it is capable of exacting the sort of toll taken by the pandemic that killed tens of millions in 1918. As the world learned with the emergence of severe acute respiratory syndrome SARS) -- which first appeared in China in 2002 but was not reported by Chinese officials until it spread to four other nations—globally shared health risk demands absolute global transparency.
There is strong evidence from a variety of sources that forms of the bird flu virus circulating in Indonesia are more virulent than those elsewhere and in a few cases may have spread directly from one person to another. The WHO has tried for two years to accommodate Indonesia, without success. Under pressure from scientists worldwide, Indonesia agreed in June to share genetic data on some of its viral samples but not the actual microbes. Without access to the viruses, it is impossible to verify the accuracy of such genetic information or to make vaccines against the deadly microbes.
Outrageously, Supari has charged that the WHO would give any viruses—not just H5N1 -- to drug companies, which in turn would make products designed to sicken poor people, in order “to prolong their profitable business by selling new vaccines” (a charge oddly reminiscent of the plot of John le Carré’s novel “The Constant Gardner" (editor: now on DVD)
Indonesia’s claim that NAMRU-2 is a biological weapons facility must be confronted head-on. The U.S. ambassador in Indonesia, Cameron Hume, is actively trying to prevent a catastrophe. So far, there has been insufficient support from senior Washington officials. They must get involved. And China, in particular, must use its substantial influence with Jakarta on this issue—in its own self-interest. The failure to share potentially pandemic viral strains with world health agencies is morally reprehensible. Allowing Indonesia and other countries to turn this issue into another rich-poor, Islamic-Western dispute would be tragic—and could lead to a devastating health crisis anywhere, at any time.
When Is a Pandemic Not a Pandemic?
"The U.S. pandemic plan links government action to phases of viral activity.... the Bush administration-designed approach grew out of the Hurricane Katrina experience... the wimpy swine flu H1N1 doesn't even appear to merit a Category 1 designation... government should only set up action and threat assessment systems that are flexible, and useful. The Bush administration learned this in the years following 9/11..."
Author: Laurie A. Garrett, Senior CFR Fellow for Global Health June 10, 200 New York Times
The World Health Organization has backed itself into a corner on its Pandemic Influenza Phases system and the so-called swine flu. WHO knows it and is working on bureaucratic escape routes. But the real problem is what these alert systems mean for national governments that have detailed pandemic response plans - particularly the United States. After decades of ignoring the influenza threat, the 2005 emergence of a virulent strain of H5N1 bird flu spawned global concern. The key outcome of that collective worry was a flurry of planning, at all levels of governance, from WHO in Geneva on down to municipal councils in Kansas and Japan. The plans vary, of course, but all start from roughly the same point: An announced pandemic.
There has been no pandemic announcement for H5N1 because the bird flu virus is extremely virulent, but not apparently contagious between human beings. The WHO Pandemic Influenza Phases system requires evidence of sustained transmission between human beings in two distinct parts of the planet at the same time. That standard has not been met for H5N1 bird flu: So far, so good. But based on that same WHO threat scheme, we do now have a full-fledged pandemic of swine flu. The world should be at Pandemic Influenza Phase 6 right now.
However, the H1N1 virus has so far proven to be a wimpy virus. Its virulence seems to be well below that of routine seasonal flu, and its so-called RO (or reproductive number) is about 1.4... based on Mexican data. This statistic means each person who acquires the virus infects about 1.4 other people. That's certainly not a terrifying level of contagion. In contrast, the dreaded 1918 influenza pandemic had an RO of around 3; on average, each infection was tripled. A constant three-fold expansion of an epidemic is a frightening prospect that utterly defies government planning. The concept of epidemic "containment" in the face of an RO of 3 is patently ridiculous. But if the swine flu RO turns out to be 3, or even 4, do we care? Should the world be put on alert for a highly contagious - but very low severity - virus? WHO experts are mulling this problem, trying to figure out how to de-couple their system from geography, and link it more closely to severity and the level of contagion. Nice idea, but not an easy feat, as New York City has discovered... The H1N1 virus may be a mild organism, but if each individual case infects more than 4 others, mere statistical odds dictate that many people will suffer and die from the virus. To be blunt, if roughly four times more people can get infected with a mild flu, as compared to seasonal influenza, the virus could be 400 percent less virulent and, theoretically, kill just as many people as a tougher seasonal virus. It's a crapshoot. But gambling is not a sound basis for policymaking.
The U.S. pandemic plan links government action to phases of viral activity. While the U.N. system has six threat levels, the Bush administration-designed approach grew out of the Hurricane Katrina experience, and, like our storm forecast system, has five categories. Each category reflects a different level of severity of the organism, based on an estimation of the percentage of people who die as a result of infection - a case fatality ratio. A Category 1 is theoretically declared for a pandemic organism with a case fatality ratio of less than 0.1 percent: Category 5, requiring urgent government action, is declared if more than 2 percent of those infected are killed by the virus. This has proven ludicrous. In the case of bird flu, fatality rates are in the 63 percent ballpark - far above Category 5 levels. But the wimpy swine flu H1N1 doesn't even appear to merit a Category 1 designation. The U.S. category system has no metric to discriminate human-to-human transmission rates.This is not trivial. Federal guidance for such actions as mobilization of vaccines is based on these designations. And categories are based on death rates - numbers we still don't have in validated form. Why does this matter? On a global scale these influenza phases and categories befuddle everything from vaccine manufacturing to negotiations on access to medicines.
We need rapid diagnostic tests to determine who has been infected. Much of our delay in understanding what category or phase to assign to swine flu has stemmed from the near impossibility of determining just how many Mexicans were infected with the H1N1 virus...Even in New York City, officials lack a toolkit that could easily discriminate genuine H1N1 infections from hay fever. We don't know what our denominator is, so we cannot make a case fatality or morbidity ratio. In the absence of such tools of precision, the wise course would be to merge the phase and category systems, putting the World Health Organization and national governments in harmony. For example, in the case of the H1N1 swine flu, WHO should declare that the world is now facing a Phase 6 pandemic influenza spread, caused by a Category 1 organism of low severity. An appropriate designation for the H5N1 avian flu: Phase pre-1, Category 5.
Governments should only set up action and threat assessment systems that are flexible, and useful. The Bush administration learned this in the years following 9/11, as the nation grew weary of color-alert systems for terrorist threat assessments. Nobody is well-served by repeating such mistakes in pandemic planning.
Laurie Garrett is a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. http://www.cfr.org/publication/19603/when_is_a_pandemic_not_a_pandemic.h...
Swine (H1N1) flu updates
August 28, 2009.
The World Health Organization (WHO) no longer reports total number of cases of swine flu, since they believe only a small fraction of people with the illness actually get tested for it
"what if the real danger is not the virus but fear of the virus?"
For a nation in quarantine, it is a haunting question: what if the real danger is not the virus but fear of the virus? Mexico was told last week to brace for battle between infection and the body's immune system. But yesterday the health minister, José Angel Córdova, revised down the suspected death toll from swine flu from 176 to 101, indicating that the outbreak may not be as bad as was initially feared. Mexico's economy, already reeling from recession before the epidemic, risks freefall from the collapse in tourism and the five-day shutdown of all "non-essential" economic activities. The next batch of economic statistics will be a "bloodbath", said Edgar Amador, deputy director-general at Dexia bank....
"Let me make it very clear" it's Mexico: official political re-branding
Obama administration officials, including Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, have been at pains to argue the disease should not be called “swine flu” because the name “suggests a problem with pork products.” Obama had gotten the message by Tuesday, referring to the crisis as “the H1N1 flu outbreak,” whereas he had referred to it as “swine flu” one day earlier. According to ABC News, “Representatives of certain agricultural industries had made their displeasure known to the Obama administration.” swine flu — now officially called influenza A(H1N1) — because scientists believe it started in pigs, but they do not know if that was recently or years ago. The name change was designed to allay fears about pigs and eating pork.
Four-year-old could hold key in search for source of swine flu outbreak
27 April 2009
A Mexican village whose inhabitants were overwhelmed by an outbreak of respiratory illness starting in February has emerged as a possible source of the swine flu The state government of Veracruz in eastern Mexico confirmed one case of swine flu in the village of La Gloria with the sufferer named locally as a four-year-old boy, Edgar Hernández Hernández.
The Veracruz state government previously said the infants died of bacterial pneumonia and said it has no plans to exhume their bodies to find out if the cause of death was swine flu... It remained unclear tonight whether the illness was swine flu but the Mexican government appeared to cast doubt on its original diagnosis of the outbreak as a more typical H2N3 flu virus when it revealed that the only sample it sent to North America for swine flu tests came back positive."The sample of one of the cases, that of a four-year-old boy, was kept," said federal health minister José Ángel Córdova. "It was among the samples sent [to labs abroad] and that came back confirmed."
Early today the US owner of an industrial pig production facility around 12 miles from La Gloria said it had found no clinical signs or symptoms of swine flu in its herd or Mexican employees. The world's biggest pig meat producer, Virginia-based Smithfield, said it is co-operating with the Mexican authorities' attempts to locate the possible source of the outbreak and will submit samples from its herds at its Granjas Carroll subsidiary to the University of Mexico for tests."Based on available recent information, Smithfield has no reason to believe that the virus is in any way connected to its operations in Mexico," it said in a statement. "The company also noted that its joint ventures in Mexico routinely administer influenza virus vaccination to their swine herds and conduct monthly tests for the presence of swine influenza."The statement came after Mexico's national public health authority, the Mexican social security institute, raised concerns that waste from the Granjas Carrol facility may be responsible for the outbreak of illness, according to local media.
"According to state agents of the Mexican social security institute, the vector of this outbreak are the clouds of flies that come out of the hog barns, and the waste lagoons into which the Mexican-US company spews tons of excrement," reported Mexico City newspaper La Jornada....
Smithfield, led by pork baron Joseph W Luter III, has previously been fined for environmental damage in the US. In October 2000 the supreme court upheld a $12.6m (£8.6m) fine levied by the US environmental protection agency which found that the company had violated its pollution permits in the Pagan River in Virginia which runs towards Chesapeake Bay. The company faced accusations that faecal and other bodily waste from slaughtered pigs had been dumped directly into the river since the 1970s .
The outbreak of respiratory illness in the area of the Granjas Carroll plant was first detected at the beginning of this month by Veratect, a company based in Washington state which monitors the spread of disease and pandemics around the world for corporate clients.
On 6 April it reported local officials had declared a health alert. According to its dispatch: "Sources characterised the event as a 'strange' outbreak of acute respiratory infection, which led to pneumonia in some paediatric cases. Health officials recorded 400 cases that sought medical treatment in the last week in La Gloria, which has a population of 3,000; officials indicated that 60% of the town's population, approximately 1,800 cases, has been affected." Swine flu can be caught through contact with infected animals, but it is unclear if contact with flies or excrement has the same effect....
Canada said the virus had been found in pigs but the infection posed no increased threat to the food supply...
the first report of the swine flu’s actually being found in swine. Previously, there had been heated debate about whether the virus could infect pigs, even though its genetic makeup clearly points to its having originated in swine at some point. But people were infecting each other, and until Saturday, no pigs had been found with the virus — a fact that the pork industry used to bolster its argument that the virus should not even be named for swine. But researchers, busy with human cases, were not really looking for the disease in pigs.... David Butler-Jones, the chief public health officer of Canada... emphasized that the infection of the pigs by the human virus does not pose any increased threat to human health or the food supply. “The eating of pork is absolutely not a problem,” Dr. Butler-Jones said.... Brian Evans, the executive vice president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said that the Canadian government had informed the United States about the finding in Alberta. American officials... indicated that they did not plan to ban Canadian products....
As of Saturday morning, Mexico had confirmed 473 cases of H1N1, out of the 1,303 suspected cases that had been tested, indicating that the outbreak may be much smaller than it initially seemed. The death toll was raised Saturday night to 19. Mexico had 159 deaths thought to be caused by swine flu. But many had other causes: 66 have now been attributed to other illnesses. Other cases have yet to be *tested. [ U.S./Canada 'confirmation'] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/03/world/03swine.html?pagewanted=2&ref=wo...
* Swine flu test results are unreliable, WHO warns
June 10, 2009
The rRT-PCR testing method was developed by the global pharmaceutical giant Roche - the company that also owns the rights to Tamiflu, one of just two anti-viral drugs used to treat the virus.
* WHO to ask infected countries to stop testing swine flu cases
Agence France-Presse | 07/08/2009
"In the next few days, the WHO will be issuing updated surveillance recommendations to countries," said Keiji Fukuda, interim assistant director-general of the WHO.
With some 137 countries and territories having reported over 98,000 cases including over 440 deaths, Fukuda said "we are now at a place in which changing the surveillance approach makes a lot of sense for many countries". In countries where many cases have been reported, it is now necessary to move towards looking for "larger national indicators of the disease" including following influenza-like illnesses or pneumonia cases. "Because the number of cases have increased in so many countries it is very hard to keep up and so we need to move towards these kinds of indicators to keep following on with the trend of the pandemic," [...] http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/world/07/07/09/who-ask-infected-countries-sto...
* Both the World Health Organization and CDC have announced they would stop tracking and reporting the number of confirmed swine flu cases
When the virus first emerged in April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had recommended testing for all suspected cases of swine flu. Now that the flu is established as a pandemic, the public health emphasis has changed from tracing the disease's progression to containing it.
Even with widespread testing, it has been impossible to know how many people have contracted the virus, because for most people, the symptoms [NB: so not actual viral test] are mild.
In the U.S., for example, the CDC has reported more than 40,000 swine flu cases, but officials estimate that more than 1 million people have or have had the virus.
Doctors continue to prescribe antiviral drugs such as Tamiflu [NB: see warnings and actual life-threatening effects] for patients with flu symptoms who also have underlying conditions such as asthma, obesity, heart and lung disease and pregnancy that put them in high-risk categories.
*Swine (H1N1) flu updates
August 28, 2009.
The World Health Organization (WHO) no longer reports total number of cases of swine flu, since they believe only a small fraction of people with the illness actually get tested for it
U.S. GLOBAL DOMINATION DEPENDENT ON DEPENDENCE & DESTRUCTION
ANALYSIS-Mexico flu outbreak could add to economic pain
Mexico's economy has been battered by a U.S. recession that hit the country's export-dependent manufacturing sector hard...The tourism sector has been a bright spot, however, with the number of visitors rising in early 2009 despite grim headlines about drug violence that has killed over 2,000 people this year."Tourism tends to get affected rather quickly. It's all about perception, and when you've got a disease of this nature that's being described as unusual, that tends to flow into the psyche of people planning trips," said Enrique Alvarez of IDEAglobal in New York. Analysts polled by the central bank at the end of March predicted Mexico's economy would shrink 3.3 percent this year. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N24446037.htm
Flu heightens Mexico’s economic sickness
Reliance on exports has left [Mexico] short of options. Even before the H1N1 swine flu brought much of Mexico to a standstill, its economy faced the worst slump since the 1930s....
“This was already an extremely serious situation,” said director of Mexico’s Ecanal consultancy. The roots of Mexico’s crisis lie in its reliance on exports to the US to generate a fifth of GDP. The country is discovering the dark side of the NAFTA free-trade accord with the Anglo-Saxons...“They put all their eggs in one basket by relying so much on the US,” said Luis Carlos Nino, Latin America strategist at Capital Economics. A belt of plants in north Mexico that supply the US auto, aerospace, plastics, and electronics industries has been ravaged.
What flu pandemic could cost the world
"In 2006, we estimated the likely global economic consequences of an influenza ... minor flu outbreak in Mexico City can send markets reeling in Tokyo. ..."
In 2006, we estimated the likely global economic consequences of an influenza pandemic using several epidemic scenarios. The study began with a multi-country, multi-sector, dynamic model capable of describing the trade and financial linkages between and within economies. We then fed the model with a series of shocks meant to simulate the effect of pandemic: a decreased labor force, increased business costs, a shift in consumer preferences due to social distancing, and changes to risk premiums. We took into account the geography of each region and the strength of its health system. Labor supply shocks varied depending on the infection rate and mortality in a given country.... The mild scenario, estimated to cost the world 1.4 million lives, reduces total output by nearly 1 percent or approximately $330 billion (in constant 2006 prices) during the first year. In our model, as the scale of the pandemic increases, so do the economic costs. A massive global economic slowdown occurs in the next-worst scenario, with more than 142 million people killed and some output in economies in the developing world shrinking by half. The loss in output in this scenario could reach $4.4 trillion, 12.6 percent of global GDP in the first year. Of course, the composition of the slowdown would differ sharply across countries, with a major shift of global capital from the affected economies to the less-affected safe havens of North America and Europe.... Wealth and income effects are larger in developing countries, and the contraction of demand is therefore much larger than in Europe and North America (Japan is caught in the middle). The destructive cycle feeds itself; Worse epidemiological outcomes in poorer countries perversely send much-needed capital flowing out and into industrialized economies. This exacerbates the current-account positions of the receiving countries and puts downward pressure on developing-country exchange rates. In essence, entire developing markets could become junk assets....
So far, our real-world swine flu pandemic appears to be less severe than the dire scenarios used in our modeling. But even now, the global economy is seeing some signs of capital retreat. The Mexican peso, for example, has taken a hit. And just five days after news of the outbreak, it looked likely that Mexico's government would have to tap its $47 billion credit line with the International Monetary Fund. [all emphases added by the digest]...
http://experts.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/04/28/what_a_flu_pandemic_co... FOREIGN POLICY is published by the Slate Group, a division of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, LLC.
Flying Pigs, Tamiflu and Factory Farms
By F. William Engdahl
29 April 2009
If we are to believe what our trusted international media report, the world is on the brink of a global pandemic outbreak of a new deadly strain of flu, H1N1 as it has been labeled, or more popularly, Swine Flu. As the story goes, the outbreak of the deadly flu was first discovered in Mexico. According to press reports, after several days, headlines reported as many as perhaps 150 deaths in Mexico were believed caused by this virulent people-killing pig virus that has spread to humans and now is allegedly being further spread from human to human. Cases were being reported hourly from Canada to Spain and beyond. The only thing wrong with this story is that it is largely based on lies, hype and cover-up of possible real causes of Mexican deaths [....]
The swine flu crisis lays bare the meat industry's monstrous power
...Six years ago, Science dedicated a major story to evidence that "after years of stability, the North American swine flu virus has jumped onto an evolutionary fasttrack". Since its identification during the Great Depression, H1N1 swine flu had only drifted slightly from its original genome. Then in 1998 a highly pathogenic strain began to decimate sows on a farm in North Carolina and new, more virulent versions began to appear almost yearly, including a variant of H1N1 that contained the internal genes of H3N2 (the other type-A flu circulating among humans).
Researchers interviewed by Science worried that one of these hybrids might become a human flu (both the 1957 and 1968 pandemics are believed to have originated from the mixing of bird and human viruses inside pigs), and urged the creation of an official surveillance system for swine flu: an admonition, of course, that went unheeded in a Washington prepared to throw away billions on bioterrorism fantasies.
But what caused this acceleration of swine flu evolution? Virologists have long believed that the intensive agricultural system of southern China is the principal engine of influenza mutation: both seasonal "drift" and episodic genomic "shift". But the corporate industrialisation of livestock production has broken China's natural monopoly on influenza evolution. Animal husbandry in recent decades has been transformed into something that more closely resembles the petrochemical industry than the happy family farm depicted in school readers. In 1965, for instance, there were 53m US hogs on more than 1m farms; today, 65m hogs are concentrated in 65,000 facilities. This has been a transition from old-fashioned pig pens to vast excremental hells, containing tens of thousands of animals with weakened immune systems suffocating in heat and manure while exchanging pathogens at blinding velocity with their fellow inmates.
Last year a commission convened by the Pew Research Center issued a report on "industrial farm animal production" that underscored the acute danger that "the continual cycling of viruses … in large herds or flocks [will] increase opportunities for the generation of novel virus through mutation or recombinant events that could result in more efficient human to human transmission." The commission also warned that promiscuous antibiotic use in hog factories (cheaper than humane environments) was sponsoring the rise of resistant staph infections, while sewage spills were producing outbreaks of E coli and pfiesteria (the protozoan that has killed 1bn fish in Carolina estuaries and made ill dozens of fishermen).
Any amelioration of this new pathogen ecology would have to confront the monstrous power of livestock conglomerates such as Smithfield Farms (pork and beef) and Tyson (chickens). The commission reported systemic obstruction of their investigation by corporations, including blatant threats to withhold funding from cooperative researchers . This is a highly globalised industry with global political clout. Just as Bangkok-based chicken giant Charoen Pokphand was able to suppress enquiries into its role in the spread of bird flu in southeast Asia, so it is likely that the forensic epidemiology of the swine flu outbreak will pound its head against the corporate stonewall of the pork industry.
This is not to say that a smoking gun will never be found: there is already gossip in the Mexican press about an influenza epicentre around a huge Smithfield subsidiary in Veracruz state. But what matters more (especially given the continued threat of H5N1) is the larger configuration: the WHO's failed pandemic strategy, the further decline of world public health, the stranglehold of big pharma over lifeline medicines, and the planetary catastrophe of industrialised and ecologically unhinged livestock production.
NAFTA: Mexico’s Swine Flu and the Globalization of Disease
Mexico has long been considered the laboratory of globalization. Now a potentially deadly virus has germinated in that laboratory...Those conditions include: a rapid transition from small livestock production to industrial meat farms after NAFTA established incentives for foreign investment, the failed decentralization of Mexico’s health system along lines established by multilateral lending banks, lax and non-enforced environmental and health regulations as the Mexican government was forced to downsize, the increased flow of goods and persons across borders, and restricted access to life-saving medicines due to NAFTA intellectual property monopolies for pharmaceutical companies.
NAFTA unleashed the spread of industrial livestock farms in Mexico by creating investment incentives for transnational companies to relocate operations there. The “race to the bottom” –where companies move production to areas where environmental and health restrictions and enforcement are low, is exemplified in livestock farming.Smithfield has had more than its share of legal problems stemming from its operations in the United States. Most recently it announced a decision to reject a $75 million dollar settlement on claims brought in Missouri by residents complaining of the stench. On August 8, 1997 a federal court judge in Virginia imposed a $12.8 million fine on Smithfield Foods for violation of the Clean Water Act. In September of 1999 an appeal upheld the ruling. In 1994, the year NAFTA went into effect, Smithfield established the Perote operations with the Mexican agrobusiness AMSA (Agroindustrias Unidas de México S.A. de C.V.). In 1999 it bought the U.S. company Carroll’s Foods for $500 million and began rapid expanision of its operations in Perote....
SPP: Integrated Risk Management or Integrated Risks?
It’s ironic and inexcusable that the most integrated region in the world responded so poorly to the recent epidemic. One of the main selling points for the extension of NAFTA into the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) was that a working group was preparing integrated response to epidemics that would make all North Americans safer. In fact, this was one of the few publicly announced activities of the secretive working groups that primarily devote their activities to making it easier for the Smithfields and Tysons to do business throughout the continent.
The Plan supposedly established mechanisms to coordinate actions, monitor outbreaks, and supervise animal farms....
Mexico despite being a poor country with greater risk of disease, had not received the technology needed to immediately analyze flu strains so had to send samples to the Canadian Health Ministry and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta for analysis. About a week was lost in this process. Moreover, as mentioned the CDC didn’t respond quickly or effectively.
Where was this plan when Perote was reporting illness and a local epidemic way back in March? Has this group done serious research on the risks of industrial livestock production? Why did the CDC take nearly a week to respond to reports of the Mexican epidemic?...
Mexico’s grand experiment in sink or swim neoliberalism included privatization and erosion of health systems and basic services. Mexican health policy expert Gustavo Leal told the CIP Americas Program that “the notorious delay in the response of the federal government can be attributed in part to the decentralization of healthcare promoted by international finance institutions such as the World Bank. “This broke down the chain of command and the flow of information,” Leal said.
TIGHTENING MEXICO'S POLITICAL & ECONOMIC DEPENDENCE ON U.S. / GLOBAL VEHICLES, IMF, WB, etc.
Swine Flu Takes Toll On Mexico Tourism Industry
Tourism is Mexico's third largest source of revenue after oil exports and remittances from Mexicans working abroad. Petroleum revenues and remittances both declined last year amid the global economic downturn. In 2008, the bright spot in the Mexican economy was tourism, which posted a 3.5 percent growth in revenue. Even as Mexico's army was fighting a bloody war against the nation's drug cartels, the number of foreign visitors to Mexico grew in 2008 to a new record. Swine flu threatens to erase those gains, not only in Cancun but across Mexico...
In the past two weeks, the number of international tourists arriving in Cancun has dropped 82 percent and the number of tourists from other parts of Mexico is down 40 percent... Swine flu is costing the region millions of dollars in lost revenue and has forced 22 hotels to temporarily suspend their operations...More than 10,000 waiters, cooks, maids and other hotel employees in Cancun have been furloughed from their jobs. In April, before the swine flu virus, also known as H1N1, burst into the headlines, about 75 percent of Cancun's hotel rooms were occupied. Now, the occupancy rate is running at about 20 percent. Even as the swine flu threat fades and any potential health threat is gone, government officials and business leaders fear people will continue to stay away from Mexico. The country's tourism minister estimates that nationwide much-needed revenue from tourists could fall by 43 percent this year as a result of the outbreak...
the current situation is worse than a hurricane. During a storm people are busy... and hotels have insurance to cover repairs and payroll.
On 25 April President Felipe Calderón [digest note: despised U.S. proxy] declared an emergency which granted him the power to suspend public events and order quarantines....
The outbreak has increased the strain on an economy that was already under pressure from the current economic crisis. Although the World Bank said it would extend Mexico $25 million in loans for immediate aid and $180 million in long-term assistance,  it wasn't enough to restore customer investor confidence leading to the peso’s biggest tumble in six months. It seems likely now that Mexico will have to draw on a $47 billion credit line from the International Monetary Fund.
It has been reported that the food services sector within Mexico City alone is experiencing losses in the excess of $4.5 million US dollars per day. As well, it has been reported that pork meat price has dropped 30% within Mexico; combined with several export bans, this will inflict severe damage to the industry. Although the virus hasn’t spread throughout the whole country, as a precaution all mass gatherings have been prohibited, affecting the sports industry. Soccer teams report direct losses in the excess of $900,000 dollars per game. It also prompted cancellations of all the festivals in the country. Additionally, the Mexican race of the 2008-09 A1 GP season has had to be cancelled because of the outbreak.
MAY 1, INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY & CINQO DE MAYO, HUGE IN MEXICO, 'NOT HELPFUL' TO U.S. & COMPRADORS
World flu alert goes higher; Mexico plans shutdown:
Mexico: Bearing brunt of the outbreak, residents take cover
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Felipe Calderon... asked his countrymen to literally stay in their homes between May 1 and May 5, saying "there is no safer place to protect yourself against catching swine flu, than in your house." Mexico took even more drastic action to squelch a swine flu epidemic, ordering a suspension of private business activity and non-essential federal government activities, as the World Health Organization ratcheted up alert to Level 5, [the highest being 6] warning that "all of humanity" is threatened. The dire warning showed that world health officials are very worried about the potential for massive numbers of deaths worldwide from the mutated virus, even though the epidemic so far has claimed only a confirmed eight lives in Mexico and one in the United States. Roughly 170 deaths are suspected of having been caused by the virus in Mexico....
Medical detectives have not pinpointed where the outbreak began. Scientists believe that somewhere in the world, months or even a year ago, a pig virus jumped to a human and mutated, and has been spreading between humans ever since.... Swine flu has symptoms nearly identical to regular flu — fever, cough and sore throat — and spreads like regular flu, through tiny particles in the air, when people cough or sneeze. People with flu symptoms are advised to stay at home, wash their hands and cover their sneezes....
Immigrants’ Rallies Draw Small Crowds in Flu Scare
Immigrants turned out for May Day demonstrations across the country in much smaller numbers than last year, with marchers pointing to uneasiness about the flu scare and job worries in the recession to explain why many people stayed home ... some participants said the low attendance was related to disappointment that Mr. Obama has not acted to end a crackdown on illegal immigrants. “People had hoped to see change sooner with our new president,” said Sandra Cajas, an immigrant advocate. in New York, a major annual Cinco de Mayo festival was canceled because of fears of flu contagion. Mexicans around the country said the fallout from the swine flu had arrived in more subtle ways, from remarks that struck them as prejudicial...
Jay Severin radio talk show host on WTKK-FM Boston, known for outrageous banter, was suspended indefinitely from his afternoon show after he called Mexicans “primitives,” “leeches,” and “criminaliens.” .... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/02/us/02immig.html?ref=world
7 swine flu deaths, not 152, says WHO
A member of the World Health Organisation dismissed claims that more than 150 people have died from swine flu, saying it has officially recorded seven deaths around the world.
Psywar Makings of a Pandemic: "infodemiology", Mass Hysteria, Surveillance and Martial Law if Needed for 'National Security'
"... psychological operations are going to be absolutely a critical, critical part of any campaign that we must get involved in."
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf
General Casey said the mental effects of repeated deployments — rising suicide rates in the Army, mild [SIC] traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress — convinced commanders “we need a program that gives soldiers and their families better ways to cope.” The general agreed to the interview after The New York Times learned of the program from Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman, chairman of the University of Pennsylvania'S Positive Psychology Center, who has been consulting with the Pentagon....“Psychology has given us this whole language of pathology, so that a soldier in tears after seeing someone killed thinks, ‘Something’s wrong with me; I have post-traumatic stress,’ ” or P.T.S.D., Dr. Seligman said. “The idea here is to give people a new vocabulary, to speak in terms of resilience. Most people who experience trauma don’t end up with P.T.S.D.; many experience post-traumatic growth.”
In some places... people seemed perplexed — even mocking — at the thought anyone would change their behavior given the relatively small number of confirmed cases in the United States and an illness that has, so far, caused only one fatality in this country.... worries over the flu (which despite the efforts of public health officials, no one seems to be calling 2009 H1N1) had created a new set of social politics.... Some complained bitterly about the news media’s “over-hyping” the matter.
Hurdles in Declaring Swine Flu a Pandemic
Laurie A. Garrett, CFR Senior Fellow for Global Health
June 12, 2009
After weeks of debate, the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its pandemic threat level alert from five to six, declaring swine flu (H1NI influenza) a full-blown pandemic. "What now kicks in is a greater sense of urgency for the pharmaceutical industry," says CFR Senior Fellow for Global Health Laurie Garrett. "Now that pandemic has been declared, more and more countries will guarantee that they will purchase vaccine if it is available, and WHO and World Bank will guarantee to purchase for the poorest countries in the world."[...]
Flu Trackers Encourage Patients to Blog About It
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano demonstrates how to cough into one's sleeve after a meeting about flu issues and emergency preparedness in the Washington region.
September 2, 2009
Think you have the flu? In some places, you can now go directly to the Internet and report your symptoms to officials eager to spot outbreaks.
Say you feel sick, but before you see a doctor you search the Web for information, or blog or Twitter about the flu. Your worries will be detected by companies prowling the Internet for disease trends. If you actually come down with the flu, and the doctors want to know who you've been in physical contact with, your trusty cellphone could soon tell them. And someday, scientists hope, this "infodemiology" might help forecast and track a flu epidemic the way experts monitor the weather.
As health officials gear up for the flu season amid the global H1N1 pandemic, technology and new forms of Internet social interaction are transforming how such outbreaks are monitored.
"All these things really change the way that we can manage diseases," said Alessandro Vespignani, professor of informatics at Indiana University. "It's not just . . . a passive approach, where we just wait for the disease and then try to do something."
Currently, most disease tracking is done through doctors reporting cases of illness they have seen. It's a reliable system but often involves a lag time of a week or more in reporting and does not account for people who don't go to the doctor.
Internet surveillance raises questions about privacy and confidentiality. But experts say it has the advantage of speed and can augment the current system by detecting sick people who might not see a doctor.
Google's public Flu Trends system, for example, is designed to pick up early clues by tracking and analyzing Internet searches for flu information. "We keep track of what queries have been asked, and how often," said Roni Zeiger, the Flu Trends product manager. Because people often search for information on the Web before going to a doctor, the system can provide an early warning of trouble, he said. During the 2007-08 flu season Google used an early version of the system that consistently detected flu rates one to two weeks ahead of official reports, the company said in a paper published in February.
Other companies and programs scan live Web chatter for mentions of, or reports about, the flu.
Boston-based HealthMap's automated system sends out an hourly Web "crawler" that hunts for flu information in seven languages.
Can iPhone Detect Swine Flu?
A new iPhone application created by researchers at Children's Hospital Boston in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab, enables users to track and report outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as H1N1 (swine flu), on the ground in real time. The application, "Outbreaks Near Me," builds upon HealthMap, an online resource that collects, filters, maps, and disseminates information about emerging infectious diseases. It provides a contextualized view of a user's specific location – pinpointing outbreaks that have been reported in the vicinity of the user and offering the opportunity to search for additional outbreak information by location or disease. Additional functionality of Outbreaks Near Me is the ability to set alerts that will notify a user on their device or by e-mail when new outbreaks are reported in their proximity, or if a user enters a new area of activity.
The new application also features an option for users to submit an outbreak report. This will enable individuals in cities and countries around the world to interact with the HealthMap team and participate in the public health surveillance process. Users may take photos – of situations and scenarios of, and/or leading to, disease – with their iPhone and submit them to the HealthMap system for review and eventual posting as an alert on the worldwide map.
HealthMap was founded in 2006 and mines the Internet – searching disparate data sources such as news reports, curated personal accounts, official alerts, blogs and chat rooms – to track and map infectious disease outbreaks.
Outbreaks Near Me was developed with support from Google.org and is available at no cost for download in the iTunes App Store. More information on Outbreaks Near Me is at: http://healthmap.org/iphone.php http://bx.businessweek.com/swine-flu/view?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.mytechbox...
Twitter hysteria over the latest potential end of humanity virus is spreading …like a virus. Trendrr, which tracks trends across social media sites, just sent over the numbers, and they are off the charts – literally.As you can see in the chart below, Tweets about “Swine Flu () ” are now at 10,000 per hour, up from an average of a few thousand earlier in the day.
reframing the problem....
Questions Over Value of Global Illness Surveillance System
It could take weeks to know if a system was sensitive enough to quickly catch a serious outbreak of swine flu or too sensitive, scaring people needlessly
Where have the Media hype achieved to improve the situation for the people of Mexico. I have yet to find articles where US reporters have been speaking to people on the ground in Mexican soil, without the use of sensationalized pictures of people with masks and regular officers patrolling the city. (Yes, officers do carry those guns even in days pre Swine Flu). What damages have these fears contributed to the economies of different regions of Mexico and Baja California. What responsibility can be placed on the media and Americans that have changed their everyday behavior and hurt thousands of people trying to bring in bread and butter to their homes. What is it in the culture of the US to consistently promote fear and act defensively, and more importantly, who is benefiting from our current panic stricken behaviors. Is this behavior really looking out for the best interest of Americans and other nation’s citizens.— Mexican American
I live in Monterrey, Mexico and the world media hasn’t realized the brutal effect they have done to the Mexican economy. So far only 12 people died from this flu, 12 PEOPLE!! Seasonal flu kills more than 30,000 a year. I think the United States and the world should be more concerned on the economic consequences this media hype will have on the social structures in Mexico. It’s seems amazing that as of today there hasn’t been any cases in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas and all of the sudden everybody is canceling their trips and panicking because of the “deadly virus”. This will have grave results for an struggling economy.— Christian Marcelo
RACISM, ALWAYS RELIABLE U.S.WMD
"Did you hear that Mexico has become a world power?" goes one gag. "When it sneezes, the whole world gets the flu."
Why is Swine Flu A/H1N1 so Deadly in Mexico?
April 28, 2009
The Swine Flu A/H1N1 virus has crossed boarders and is officially a pandemic yet so far, it has only been fatal in Mexico. Why is Swine Flu A/H1N1 so deadly in Mexico but seemingly treatable in other infected regions? Is there a predominant demographic among the Mexican Swine Flu fatalities?
The deadly nature of the Swine Flu outbreak in Mexico can be blamed on several factors:
The slow response of health officials in recognizing an epidemic threat
Limited availability of antiviral medications
Lower levels of health care, specifically among the poor
Highly dense population clusters
Proximity to livestock in day-to-day life
Poor sanitation in some areas
as always, partisan electoral politics serve the bipartisan national agenda
Paranoia pandemic: Conservative media baselessly blame swine flu outbreak on immigrants
April 27, 2009
Conservative media personalities baselessly blame Mexican immigrants for spreading swine flu across the border, despite several reports that U.S. swine flu patients recently traveled to Mexico.
'tested' on guinea pigs
Swine Flu Vaccine Seems Safe: Experts
Despite persistent public concern that H1N1 vaccines being tested might have unforeseen side effects, experts reiterated Thursday that so far, at least, the shots seem safe. "There have been no red flags at all," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told HealthDay. A trial designed to test the vaccine on healthy adults began on Aug. 7, while another trial involving children started Aug. 18...
Many people are painfully aware of a U.S. government decision in 1976 to vaccinate 43 million people against swine flu -- it backfired badly.
Not only did the dreaded outbreak never materialize, but some 500 Americans who did get vaccinated came down with a rare neurodegenerative condition called Guillain-Barre syndrome, which many experts believe was linked to the shot. Twenty-five of those 500 people died....segments of the public may be wary of any vaccine they perceive as being rushed out too fast. A report in a recent issue of the BMJ found that more than half of all health-care workers surveyed in Hong Kong have already decided not to get vaccinated because of fears about safety and doubts on efficacy.
U.S. officials do not yet know whether the vaccine will require one or two doses. "We will know in a week or so if one dose is going to be enough," Fauci said. "We're hoping it's going to be one. Reports published Thursday by drug maker Novartis suggest its vaccine may be effective after just one jab. If two doses are needed, researchers will need to figure out how far apart they should be given, Moore said, and whether an adjuvant -- something to boost the immune response -- is called for.
Swine flu link to killer nerve disease: Leaked letter reveals concern of neurologists
August 15, 2009, Daily Mail (One of the U.K.'s most popular newspapers)
A warning that the new swine flu jab is linked to a deadly nerve disease has been sent by the Government to senior neurologists in a confidential letter. The letter from the Health Protection Agency, the official body that oversees public health, has been leaked to The Mail on Sunday, leading to demands to know why the information has not been given to the public before the vaccination of millions of people, including children, begins. [The letter] tells the neurologists that they must be alert for an increase in a brain disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), which could be triggered by the vaccine. GBS attacks the lining of the nerves, causing paralysis and inability to breathe, and can be fatal. The letter, sent to about 600 neurologists on July 29, is the first sign that there is concern at the highest levels that the vaccine itself could cause serious complications. It refers to the use of a similar swine flu vaccine in the United States in 1976 when: * More people died from the vaccination than from swine flu. * 500 cases of GBS were detected. * The vaccine may have increased the risk of contracting GBS by eight times. * The vaccine was withdrawn after just ten weeks when the link with GBS became clear. * The US Government was forced to pay out millions of dollars to those affected. Concerns have already been raised that the new vaccine has not been sufficiently tested and that the effects, especially on children, are unknown. The British Neurological Surveillance Unit (BNSU), part of the British Association of Neurologists, has been asked to monitor closely any cases of GBS as the vaccine is rolled out. One senior neurologist said last night: ‘I would not have the swine flu jab because of the GBS risk.’
Vaccine spreading polio in Nigeria, health officials warn
Polio, the dreaded paralyzing disease stamped out in the industrialized world, is spreading in Nigeria. And health officials say that in some cases, it’s caused by the vaccine used to fight it. In July, the World Health Organization issued a warning that this vaccine-spread virus might extend beyond Africa.
Glaxo Starts Testing Swine Flu Vaccine With Experimental Adjuvant Additive
14 Aug 2009 GlaxoSmithKline Plc has started clinical tests on its experimental swine flu vaccine, completing enrollment for the first of 16 studies planned. Glaxo, of London, said the first trial of adults ages 18 to 60 in Germany is part of a program to test the vaccine in 9,000 infants, children and adults in Europe, Canada and the U.S., the drugmaker said in an e-mailed statement today.
Vaccines Far More Deadly Than The Swine Flu
July 28, 2009
Institute of Science in Society
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Joe Cummins
This report submitted to Sir Liam Donaldson, Chief Medical Officer of the UK, and to the US Food and Drugs Administration
Please circulate widely to your elected representatives, wherever you are
A swine flu outbreak occurred in Mexico and the United States in April 2009 and spread rapidly around the world by human-to human transmission. The new type A H1N1 influenza virus is unlike any that had been previously isolated [1, 2], judging from the first data released in May. It is a messy combination of sequences from bird, human and swine flu virus lineages from North America and Eurasia. A senior virologist based in Canberra, Australia, told the press he thought that the virus could have been created in the laboratory and released by accident . Some even suggest it was made intentionally as a bioweapon , while others blame the intensive livestock industry and extensive trafficking of love animals over long distances, which provide plenty of opportunity for generating exotic recombinants . But what worries the public most is the mass vaccination programmes governments are putting in place to combat the emerging pandemic, which could well be worse than the pandemic itself.
Watchdog opposes fast-track vaccine for school children
The US government is intending to vaccinate all children in September when school re-opens, and the country’s vaccine watchdog National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC) has called on the Obama Administration and all state Governors to provide evidence that the move is  “necessary and safe”, demanding “strong mechanisms for vaccine safety screening, recording, monitoring, reporting and vaccine injury compensation.”
The US Departments of Health and Homeland Security declared a national public health emergency in April soon after the swine flu outbreak. As a result, some schools were closed, people quarantined, and drug companies were given contracts worth $7billon to make vaccines being fast tracked by the Food and Drugs Administration . That means they will only be tested for a few weeks on several hundred children and adult volunteers before being given to all school children this fall.
[added by the digest: Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the United States’ emergency declaration “standard operating procedure,” and said she would rather call it a “declaration of emergency preparedness.” “It’s like declaring one for a hurricane,” she said. “It means we can release funds and take other measures. The hurricane may not actually hit.”
The emergency declaration in the United States lets the government free more money for antiviral drugs and give some previously unapproved tests and drugs to children. One-quarter of the national stockpile of 50 million courses of antiflu drugs will be released.]
Furthermore, under federal legislation passed by Congress since 2001, an Emergency Use Authorization allows drug companies, health officials and anyone administering experimental vaccines to Americans during a declared public health emergency to be protected from liability if people get injured. US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius has granted vaccine makers total legal immunity from any lawsuits that may result from any new swine flu vaccine. And some states may make the vaccination mandatory by law...
Critics point out that the ‘vaccination experts’ are dominated by the vaccine makers standing to gain from the enormously lucrative vaccine and antiviral contracts awarded by governments. But the decisive argument against mass vaccinations is that flu shots simply don’t work and are dangerous .
Flu shots ineffective and increase risks of asthma
There are widely acknowledged reasons why flu vaccines won’t work, as already pointed out with regard to the much touted vaccines against the ‘pandemic bird flu’ that has yet to materialize  (How to Stop Bird Flu Instead, SiS 35). The flu virus changes quickly – even without the help of genetic engineering in the laboratory, and especially with the help of the intensive livestock industry – whereas the vaccines target specific strains. Furthermore, flu vaccination does not give permanent protection, and must be repeated annually; the vaccines are difficult to mass-produce, and some strains won’t grow at all under laboratory conditions.
Numerous studies have documented that flu shots give little or no protection against infection and illness, and there is no reason to believe that swine flu vaccines will be different.
A review of 51 separate studies in 2006 concluded that flu vaccines worked no better than a placebo in 260 000 children ranging in age from six months to 23 months . A report published in 2008 found flu vaccines in young children made no difference in the number of flu-related doctor and hospital visits .
On the other hand, a study of 800 children with asthma found that those receiving a flu vaccine had a significantly increased risk of asthma-related doctor and emergency room visits ; the odds ratios were 3.4 and 1.9 respectively. This was confirmed in a report published in 2009, which showed children with asthma who received FluMist had a 3-fold increased risk of hospitalization  Flu vaccines are equally useless for adults, including the elderly, giving little or no protection against infection or illnesses including pneumonia (see ).
Toxic adjuvants in flu vaccines
Vaccines themselves can be dangerous, especially live, attenuated viral vaccines or the new recombinant nucleic acid vaccines , they have the potential to generate virulent viruses by recombination and the recombinant nucleic acids could cause autoimmune diseases.
A further major source of toxicity in the case of the flu vaccines are the adjuvants, substances added in order to boost the immunogenicity of the vaccines. There is a large literature on the toxicities of adjuvants. Most flu vaccines contain dangerous levels of mercury in the form of thimerosal, a deadly preservative 50 times more toxic than mercury itself . At high enough doses, it can cause long-term immune, sensory, neurological, motor, and behavioural dysfunctions. Also associated with mercury poisoning are autism, attention deficit disorder, multiple sclerosis, and speech and language deficiencies. The Institute of Medicine has warned that infants, children, and pregnant women should not be injected with thimerosal, yet the majority of flu shots contain 25 micrograms of it.
Another common adjuvant is alum or aluminium hydroxide, which can cause vaccine allergy, anaphylaxis, and macrophage myofascitis, a chronic inflammation syndrome, In cats, alum also gives rise to fibrosarcomas at the site of injection . Numerous new adjuvants are no better, and could be worse. According to a recent review in a science and business pharmaceutical publication , most newer adjuvants including MF59, ISCOMS, QS21, AS02, and AS04 have “substantially higher local reactogenicity and systemic toxicity than alum.”
Current status of swine flu vaccines
Five different companies have been contracted to produce vaccines worldwide: Baxter International, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis and Sanofi-Aventis and AstroZeneca . Already stretched beyond capacity, there is every intention to make smaller vaccine doses go further with a range of new adjuvants , with the blessing of the WHO (see later).
Flu vaccines are traditionally produced from non-virulent (attenuated or weakened) influenza viruses (see Box for a description of the viruses). To be effective, the genes of the non- virulent virus used must match those of the viral strain spreading in the population. Activation of the immune system by exposure to the non pathogenic form of the circulating pathogenic strain leads to the production of antibodies that will confer protection against the pathogenic strain. Producing the non-virulent virus involves first identifying and then recreating the subtypes of two of the virus’s surface proteins, haemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N), which determine the strain’s virulence and ability to spread, and are also the target proteins for vaccine production.
Seed viruses are first made to provide the starting material for large scale production of live non-virulent flu viruses. The seed viruses are approved by the WHO or the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA). The usual method of seed virus production is reassortment (see Box). Fertilized chicken eggs are injected with both a standard non-pathogenic influenza strain known to grow well in eggs and the strain that carries the genes expressing the desired vaccine H and N protein subtypes. The two viruses multiply, and their eight genome segments reassort with 256 possible combinations. The resulting recombinant viruses are then screened for the desired virus with the six genome segments that allow the standard strain to grow so well in eggs and the H and N genes from the circulating strain. The seed virus is then injected into millions of eggs for mass production of vaccine. This conventional method of seed stock production takes about one to two months to complete .
Cell culture systems may eventually replace chicken eggs. Baxter International applied for a patent on a process using cell culture to produce quantities of infecting virus, which are harvested, inactivated with formaldehyde and ultraviolet light, and then detergent . Baxter has produced H5N1 whole virus vaccines in a Vero cell line derived from the kidney of an African green monkey, and conducted phase 1 and 2 clinical trials with and without aluminium hydroxide as adjuvant [22, 23]. The main finding was that the toxic adjuvant did not increase neutralising antibodies against the vaccine strain. Baxter has agreed to ship H1N1 vaccine by the end of July or early August 2009 but details of the production of that vaccine have not yet been released to the public .
In December, a Baxter facility in Austria sent a human flu vaccine contaminated with the deadly H5N1 live avian flu virus to 18 countries, including the Czech Republic, where testing showed it killed the ferrets inoculated . Czech newspapers questioned whether Baxter was involved in a deliberate attempt to start a pandemic.
Norvatis, another big pharma, announced on 13 June that it, too, has produced a swine flu vaccine using cell-based technology and the proprietary adjuvant MF59®. The MF59® adjuvant is oil based and contains Tween80, Span85, and squalene . In studies of oil-based adjuvants in rats, the animals were rendered crippled and paralyzed. Squalene brought on severe arthritis symptoms in rats, and studies in humans given from 10 to 20 ppb (parts per billion) of squalene showed severe immune system impact and development of autoimmune disorders .
Novartis was in the news in 2008 for a clinical trial of a H5N1 vaccine in Poland. The trial was administered by local nurses and doctors who gave the vaccine to 350 homeless people, leaving 21 died; and were prosecuted by the Polish police [27, 28]. Novartis claimed the deaths were unrelated to the H5N1 vaccine , which had been “tested on 3500 other people without any deaths.”
GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine will be made up of antigens of the recently isolated influenza strain, and also contains its own proprietary adjuvant system AS03 that has been approved in the EU along with its H5N1 bird flu vaccine in 2008. According to the European Public Assessment Report , AS03 adjuvant is composed of squalene (10.68 milligrams), DL-α-tocopherol (11.86 milligrams) and polysorbate 80 (4.85 milligrams). The H5N1 vaccine also contains 5 micrograms thiomersal, as well as Polysorbate 80, Octoxynol 10, and various inorganic salts. The company is aggressively promoting various adjuvant systems as its ‘adjuvant advantage’ that reduces the dose of vaccines .
A recent WHO survey of primary vaccine producers concluded that the potential output of 4.9 Billion doses of H1N1 vaccine per year is a best-case scenario, assuming among other factors that the most dose-sparing formulation (that will include toxic adjuvants) be selected by each manufacturer and that production will take place at full capacity. WHO Director-General, Dr .Margaret Chan, and the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, met with senior officials of vaccine manufacturers on 19 May and asked them to reserve part of their production capacity for poor countries that would otherwise have no or little access to vaccine in the case of a pandemic .
The last mass-vaccination in the US was a disaster. In 1976, cases of swine flu were found in soldiers at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and one of them died, most likely of physical overexertion rather than from the infection . This led to the launch of a mass vaccination of 40 million against a pandemic that never materialized. Thousands filed claims for injury. At least 25 died and 500 developed paralyzing Guillain-Barre syndrome [33, 34].
Swine flu syndromes mostly mild
As of 22 July 2009, the CDC listed a total of 40 617 cases in the US, with 319 fatalities, giving a fatalites/case ratio of 0.8 percent ; though the real death rate – among all cases of infection including the mild ones that go unreported – is probably much lower. Experts estimate that only 1 out of 20 cases are reported .
The UK is the worst affected European country, and the pandemic is in the headlines everyday in July. A new telephone helpline was set up on 23 July to let people get advice and tamiflu without seeing a doctor. In that week, there has been a record rise in cases to 100 000 and a total of 30 deaths so far , giving a fatalities/case ratio of 0.03 percent, a more accurate reflection of the actual death rate.
UK’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson has ordered the NHS to plan for as many as 65 000 deaths, with 350 a day at the peak . There has been no plan as yet for mass vaccination; but the UK government has advance orders for 195 million doses of vaccine with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
The vaccine that GSK is developing will be tested on a limited number of people as the UK drug company reportedly  “weighs the pandemic danger against the risks of an unsafe shot.” This was criticized as “risky” by Prof. Hugh Pennington, a retired microbiologist at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. “By limiting clinical trials, Glaxo raises the danger that the vaccine dose isn’t properly calibrated, and could lead to shots that don’t protect people from the virus or at worse are unsafe,” Pennington said.
Pennington added that the shot’s ability to trigger the body’s defences is crucial and requires tests to determine the best dose and whether an adjuvant is needed to bolster the immunity. (As we know, GSK is definitely promoting its new range of toxic adjuvants.) He also referred to the Fort Dix incident in 1976 (see earlier).
France has ordered vaccines from Sanofi, GSK and Novartis, but sees no reason to ask vaccine makers to shorten or skip clinical trials . Sanofi-Aventis, the French drug maker developing its own swine flu vaccine will begin testing the product in early August, and estimates it will need as much as two and a half months of tests before having a shot that’s “both safe and protective”, according to Albert Garcia, speaking for the company’s vaccine unit, “the vaccine will be ready in November or December, he said.
Baxter however will produce a vaccine by early August for clinical tests.
Glaxo also said it is developing a face mask coated with antivirals to prevent infection and boosting production of its Relenza drug for patients already suffering from swine flu.
http://www.ktradionetwork.com/2009/07/29/vaccines-far-more-deadly-than-t... for the full report and links from the Institute of Science in Society.