H1N1 Swine Flu is Not Just A Hoax By Big Pharma
Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist Magazine
With official deaths remaining relatively low, the backlash against the H1N1 pandemic response is in full swing. Claims range from a massive overreaction by health authorities to a conspiracy cooked up by Big Pharma. But while swine flu may have boosted profits for vaccine manufacturers, the reality of the pandemic is more complicated.
First, the pandemic isn't over. While cases in
"They had vaccine but they didn't encourage its use," says
Even if we don't see a 1958-style comeback, classifying the pandemic as a damp squib at this point would be premature. Although the
"We anticipate that these figures will be much larger,"
What's more, straight death counts mask what was particularly scary about 2009 H1N1: that it doesn't just strike the old and infirm. About 90 percent of seasonal flu victims are over 65. In contrast, 88 percent of H1N1's victims have been under 65.
The perception that H1N1 is harmless may stem from ordinary people rarely seeing the severe cases, says
What about the millions paid to vaccine companies? All the scientists contacted by New Scientist say launching vaccine production at the start of the pandemic was appropriate.
"When a virus emerges from the animal reservoir you don't know how it will behave," says
Vive la Resistance to Flu
Vaccinating people against swine flu may be a lot easier than anyone dared hope, as it turns out that people have an unexpected degree of immunity to the pandemic now sweeping the world.
In an effort to contain swine flu, the French Health Ministry this week called for citizens to avoid "all direct contacts between people and particularly with sick people," which means no kissing or shaking hands.
This may go down in history as the most confusing flu season ever, given that a vaccine for the new H1N1 swine flu isn't yet available, but the plain old seasonal flu vaccine is. Talk about a recipe for pandemonium at the pediatrician's office!
Seasonal Cold or Swine Flu? Moms Face Tough Calls
I sent my 11-year-old son to school today with a stuffy nose and mild cough, as I've done countless times in the past. Now, though, I'm wondering whether I should have kept him home. How do I know it's really a garden-variety cold and not the swine flu?
The National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases made it easy to think that all children will need just one swine flu immunization, but that's not true. The younger a child is, the less well his or her immune system responded to the swine flu vaccine in clinical trials. So children under age 10 will need two doses of swine flu vaccine, one month apart, according to the NIAID itself.
Better Ways Medicine Can Beat Back Swine Flu
Bernadine Healy M.D.
Yes, today's swine flu outbreak could change quickly. But it's time to give up the ghosts of 1918 that so haunt our medical thinking. Our challenges today are not what they were when we had nothing to offer but are more about knowing just what to offer, when, and to whom. This swine flu pandemic promises to teach numerous lessons that will inform future crises. Some are already evident
(c) 2010 Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist Magazine