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The H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Manipulating the Data to Justify a Worldwide Public Health Emergency

August 26th, 2009

by Michel Chossudovsky

    "Over the course of the next few months, with the assistance of our partners in the private and public sector and at every level of government, we will move aggressively to prepare the nation for the possibility of a more severe outbreak of the H1N1 virus. We will do all we can to plan for different scenarios. We ask the American people to become actively engaged with their own preparation and prevention. It’s a responsibility we all share." (US Government advisory, flu.gov: Vaccines, Vaccine Allocation and Vaccine Research )

A Worldwide public health emergency is unfolding on an unprecedented scale. 4.9 billion doses of H1N1 swine flu vaccine are envisaged by the World Health Organization (WHO).

A report by President Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology "considers the H1N1 pandemic 'a serious health threat; to the U.S. — not as serious as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic but worse than the swine flu outbreak of 1976.":

    "It's not that the new H1N1 pandemic strain is more deadly than previous flu threats, but that it is likely to infect more people than usual because so few people have immunity" (Get swine flu vaccine ready: U.S. advisers

Responding to the guidelines set by the WHO, preparations for the inoculation of millions of people are ongoing, in the Americas, the European Union, in South East Asia and around the World. Priority has been given to health workers, pregnant women and children. In some countries, the H1N1 vaccination will be compulsory.

In the US, the state governments are responsible for these preparations, in coordination with federal agencies. In the State of Massachusetts, legislation has been introduced which envisages hefty fines and prison sentences for those who refuse to be vaccinated. (See VIDEO; Compulsory Vaccination in America?.

The US military is slated to assume an active role collaborate in the public health emergency

Schools and colleges across North America are preparing for mass vaccinations. (See CDC H1N1 Flu | Resources for Schools, Childcare Providers, and Colleges)

In Britain, the Home Office has envisaged the construction of mass graves in response to a rising death toll. The British Home Office report calls for "increasing mortuary capacity" An atmosphere of panic and insecurity prevails. (See Michel Chossudovsky Fear, Intimidation & Media Disinformation: U.K Government is Planning Mass Graves in Case of H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic)


Table contained in an official Home Office Report, reported by the British media. The complete report has not been released.

Reliability of the Data

The spread of the disease is measured by country-level reports of confirmed and probable cases.

How reliable is this data. Does the data justify a Worldwide public health emergency, including a $40 billion dollar vaccination program which largely favors a handful of pharmaceutical companies? In the US alone, the costs of H1N1 preparedness are of the order of 7.5 billion dollars.( See Flu.gov: Vaccines, Vaccine Allocation and Vaccine Research)

Following the outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu in Mexico, the data collection was at the outset scanty and incomplete, as confirmed by official statements.( See Michel Chossudovsky, Is it the "Mexican Flu", the "Swine Flu" or the "Human Flu"? Michel Chossudovsky Political Lies and Media Disinformation regarding the Swine Flu Pandemic)

The Atlanta based Center for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged that what was being collected in the US were figures of "confirmed and probable cases". There was, however, no breakdown between "confirmed" and "probable". In fact, only a small percentage of the reported cases were "confirmed" by a laboratory test.

On the basis of scanty country-level information, the WHO declared a level 4 pandemic on April 27. Two days later, a level 5 Pandemic was announced without corroborating evidence (April 29). A level 6 Pandemic was announced on June 11.

There was no attempt to improve the process of data collection in terms of lab. confirmation. In fact quite the opposite. Following the level 6 Pandemic announcement, both the WHO and the CDC decided that data collection of individual confirmed and probable cases was no longer necessary to ascertain the spread of swine flu. As of July 10, one month after the announcement of the level six pandemic, the WHO discontinued the collection of confirmed cases. It does not require member countries to send in figures pertaining to confirmed or probable cases.

    WHO will no longer issue the global tables showing the numbers of confirmed cases for all countries. However, as part of continued efforts to document the global spread of the H1N1 pandemic, regular updates will be provided describing the situation in the newly affected countries. WHO will continue to request that these countries report the first confirmed cases and, as far as feasible, provide weekly aggregated case numbers and descriptive epidemiology of the early cases. (WHO, Briefing note, 2009)

Based on incomplete and scantly data, the WHO nonetheless predicts with authority that: "as many as 2 billion people could become infected over the next two years — nearly one-third of the world population." (World Health Organization as reported by the Western media, July 2009).


Dr. Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO

The statements of the WHO are notoriously contradictory. While creating an atmosphere of fear and insecurity, pointing to am impending global public health crisis, the WHO has also acknowledged that the underlying symptoms are moderate and that "most people will recover from swine flu within a week, just as they would from seasonal forms of influenza" (WHO statement, quoted in the Independent, August 22, 2009).

The WHO's July 10 guidelines have set the stage for a structure of scantiness and inadequacy with regard to data collection at the national level. National governments of member States of the WHO are not required to corroborate the spread of the A H1N1 swine flu, through laboratory tests.

The WHO table below provides the breakdown by geographical region. These figures, as acknowledged by the WHO are no longer based on corroborated cases, since the governments are not required since July 11 to "test and report individual cases". In an utterly twisted logic, the WHO posits that because the not required to test and report individual cases, which are the only means of ascertaining the spread of the virus, that "the number of cases reported actually understates the real number of cases" (See note at foot of Table). The question is: what is being reported by the countries? How do they ascertain that the cases are H1N1 as opposed to seasonal influenza.

TABLE 1

Map of affected countries and deaths as of 13 August 2009 [png 313kb]

Region

Cumulative total as of
13 Aug 2009

Cases* Deaths
WHO Regional Office for Africa (AFRO) 146,9 3
WHO Regional Office for the Americas (AMRO) 105,882 1,579
WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) 2,532 8
WHO Regional Office for Europe (EURO) Over 32,000 53
WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia (SEARO) 13,172 106
WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) 27,111 50

Total Over 182,166 1799

*Given that countries are no longer required to test and report individual cases, the number of cases reported actually understates the real number of cases.

Source WHO | Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 - update 62 (revised 21 August 2009)

The WHO confirms that the above data is based on qualitative indicators:

    "The qualitative indicators monitor: the global geographic spread of influenza, trends in acute respiratory diseases, the intensity of respiratory disease activity, and the impact of the pandemic on health-care services."

These qualitative indicators are, according to the WHO, as follows:

TEXT BOX 1

Geographical spread

Geographical spread refers to the number and distribution of sites reporting influenza activity.

- No activity: no laboratory-confirmed case(s) of influenza, or evidence of increased or unusual respiratory disease activity.
- Localized: limited to one administrative unit of the country (or reporting site) only.
- Regional: appearing in multiple but <50% of the administrative units of the country (or reporting sites).
- Widespread: appearing in ≥50% of the administrative units of the country (or reporting sites).
- No information available: no information available for the previous 1-week period.

• Trend

Trend refers to changes in the level of respiratory disease activity compared with the previous week.
- Increasing: evidence that the level of respiratory disease activity is increasing compared with the previous week.
- Unchanged: evidence that the level of respiratory disease activity is unchanged compared with the previous week.
- Decreasing: evidence that the level of respiratory disease activity is decreasing compared with the previous week.
- No information available.

• Intensity

The intensity indicator is an estimate of the proportion of the population with acute respiratory disease, covering the spectrum of disease from influenza-like illness to pneumonia.

- Low or moderate: a normal or slightly increased proportion of the population is currently affected by respiratory illness.
- High: a large proportion of the population is currently affected by respiratory illness.
- Very high: a very large proportion of the population is currently affected by respiratory illness.
- No information available.

• Impact

Impact refers to the degree of disruption of health-care services as a result of acute respiratory disease.

- Low: demands on health-care services are not above usual levels.
- Moderate: demands on health-care services are above the usual demand levels but still below the maximum capacity of those services.
- Severe: demands on health care services exceed the capacity of those services.
- No information available.

Source: WHO | Annex 4 of the Interim WHO guidance for the surveillance of human infection with A(H1N1) virus

truct involves a non-sequitur.

In the text box below are the qualitative indicators used. What is being tabulated is 1. the spread of influenza, 2. the spread of respiratory diseases and 3. the impacts on health care services activity.

The spread of the H1N1 swine flu is not being evaluated through any concrete indicator.

An examination of the maps (click links on table below) does not suggest any particular pattern or trend, which might ascertain the spread of H1N1.

For many of the reporting countries the information is not available or indicates no particular trend.

The question is: how can this information reasonably be used to ascertain the spread of a very specific form of influenza, namely A H11N1

"Confirmed and Probable Cases" in the US

On July 24, following the WHO July 10 decision to shift from quantitative to qualitative assessments and not to require governments to ascertain the data through lab testing, the Atlanta based CDC also announced that it had discontinued the process of data collection pertaining to "confirmed and probable cases":

    "How many cases of novel H1N1 flu infection have been reported in the United States? When the novel H1N1 flu outbreak was first detected in mid-April 2009, CDC began working with states to collect, compile and analyze information regarding the novel H1N1 flu outbreak, including the numbers of confirmed and probable cases of disease. From April 15, 2009 to July 24, 2009, states reported a total of 43,771 confirmed and probable cases of novel influenza A (H1N1) infection. Of these cases reported, 5,011 people were hospitalized and 302 people died. On July 24, 2009, confirmed and probable case counts were discontinued. Aggregate national reports of hospitalizations and deaths will continue at this time. (See CDC H1N1 Flu | Questions and Answers About CDC's Online Reporting)

Instead of collecting data --which would have provided empirical backing to its assessments on how the H1N1 virus was spreading-- the CDC announced that it had developed a model "to try to determine the true number of novel H1N1 flu cases in the United States".

    "The model took the number of cases reported by states and adjusted the figure to account for known sources of underestimation (for example; not all people with novel H1N1 flu seek medical care, and not all people who seek medical care have specimens collected by their health care provider)....

    Why did CDC discontinue reporting of individual cases? Individual case counts were used in the early stages of the outbreak to track the spread of disease. As novel H1N1 flu became more widespread, individual case counts became an increasingly inaccurate representation of the true burden of disease. This is because many people likely became mildly ill with novel H1N1 flu and never sought treatment; many people may have sought and received treatment but were never officially tested or diagnosed; and as the outbreak intensified, in some cases, testing was limited to only hospitalized patients. That means that the official case count represented only a fraction of the true burden of novel H1N1 flu illness in the United States. CDC recognized early in the outbreak that once disease was widespread, it would be more valuable to transition to standard surveillance systems to monitor illness, hospitalizations and deaths. CDC discontinued official reporting of individual cases on July 24, 2009. (Ibid, emphasis added. (ibid)

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