By John Stone
Articles in the Daily Mail (HERE) and London Evening Standard today reported government contingency plans for mass burials in the event of the swine flu epidemic taking off. Following a meeting last month the Home Office has published a 56 page document ‘The Framework of Planners Preparing to Manage Deaths’. Faced with lurid projections that they would not be able to bury the bodies fast enough it is interesting to report that the overwhelming response of readers was of profound scepticism and derision. People suspect they are being manipulated, some blame the newspaper (which was plainly just reporting) and some blame the government and the pharmaceutical industry.
Comments such as:
“What mad cow thought this one up?”
“What a joke. Someone somewhere must be worrying we are all going to refuse the vaccination...”
“I have better idea - dig a mass grave and drop all the Members of Parliament in...”
(One swear at the end of this Monty Python classic. Spend 2 minutes and have a laugh.)
“Doesn’t it make you glad to be British...well organised and prepared for the worst. This is a flipping flu epidemic...more chance of dying after you have had the untried jab...”
I bet if an MP were to die of swine flu he/she would not be buried in a mass grave”
“It’s not cholera! Its’s not bubonic plague! Its just swine flu which has been hyped up by the drug interest and the media!”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake I am still waiting to catch bird flu!”
This is admittedly not the first plan of its kind. In 2006 the government published plans for the excess burial of 320,000 people from avian flu (HERE). But while chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, was insisting that the arrival of human bird flu was only a matter of time (HERE) chief government scientist Sir David King was briefing that the chances of it happening were “very low” and reports that a global pandemic was inevitable were “totally misleading” (HERE).
The scepticism was recently echoed by leading Cochrane Collaboration epidemiologist Tom Jefferson in Der Spiegel (HERE):
“SPIEGEL: Mr. Jefferson, the world is living in fear of swine flu. And some predict that, by next winter, one-third of the world's population might be infected. Are you personally worried? Are you and your family taking any precautions?
“Tom Jefferson: I wash my hands very often -- and it's not all because of swine flu. That's probably the most effective precaution there is against all respiratory viruses, and the majority of gastrointestinal viruses and germs as well.
“SPIEGEL: Do you consider the swine flu to be particularly worrisome?
“Jefferson : It's true that influenza viruses are unpredictable, so it does call for a certain degree of caution. But one of the extraordinary features of this influenza -- and the whole influenza saga -- is that there are some people who make predictions year after year, and they get worse and worse. None of them so far have come about, and these people are still there making these predictions. For example, what happened with the bird flu, which was supposed to kill us all? Nothing. But that doesn't stop these people from always making their predictions. Sometimes you get the feeling that there is a whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur.
“SPIEGEL: Who do you mean? The World Health Organization (WHO)?
“Jefferson: The WHO and public health officials, virologists and the pharmaceutical companies. They've built this machine around the impending pandemic. And there's a lot of money involved, and influence, and careers, and entire institutions! And all it took was one of these influenza viruses to mutate to start the machine grinding...”
Of course, this is only part humorous. The project has already caused medical chaos in the UK and cost the lives of people who couldn’t get to a doctor with other more life threatening conditions. But also many people have been frightened, first of all by the prospect of catching what is in most cases a mild illness, but also now the possibility that governments are engaged in a policy of mass slaughter. Some of the comments in the Daily Mail reflect this – I have little doubt this is a paranoid misjudgement and the main motives behind this disreputable episode are financial and pharmaceutical industry growth plans (HERE). However, the amount of mistrust engendered by the swine flu affair will not be easily repaired. If I was an investor I would start to unload my pharma stocks now.
John Stone is UK Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.