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11. The H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Manipulating Data to Enrich Drug Companies

The H1N1 virus has spawned widespread panic and fear throughout the world. However, upon closer examination, many of the claims made by the World Health Organization (WHO) seem to be based on weak and incomplete data. The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created and used data to grossly exaggerate the need for an expensive and unnecessary vaccine aimed at creating profits for the pharmaceutical industry—not protecting Americans.

Student Researchers:

  • Nolan Higdon and Michael Smith (Diablo Valley College)

Faculty Evaluator:

  • Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)

The WHO claimed that a worldwide public health emergency had unfolded on an unprecedented scale in 2009, and 4.9 billion doses of H1N1 swine flu vaccine were needed to stop the spread. Very soon thereafter countries all around the globe began preparation for the inoculation of millions of people in accordance with WHO recommendations. In some countries the WHO recommended that the H1N1 vaccination be mandatory. However, most people were unaware that the data used by the WHO was faulty at best.

In the US, both federal and state governments began preparation for the pandemic. State governments are generally responsible for these preparations, in coordination with federal agencies. President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a report that “considered the H1N1 pandemic ‘a serious health threat’ to the US—not as serious as the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic but worse than the swine flu outbreak of 1976.” Responding to such terrifying language, Massachusetts’s legislation introduced hefty fines and prison sentences for those who refused to be vaccinated. The US military was expected to have an active role in this health emergency.

There was no uniform system for collecting data on suspected swine flu victims in the US, which led to confusion in the absence of accurate statistics. The CDC acknowledged that the figures being collected on “confirmed and probable cases” in the US contained no separation between “confirmed” and “probable.” In fact, only a small percentage of the reported cases were “confirmed” by laboratory tests. This faulty data and much more like it from around the globe was given to the WHO, who in turn used the numbers to justify a pandemic.

The need for a perfected method of diagnosing and counting infected people was demonstrated when the WHO’s “data” caused a wave of inaccurate conclusions as to the severity of the flu and the distance it had spread.

The WHO declared a Phase 4 level of severity on April 27. Just two days later (April 29), without corroborating evidence, the pandemic was raised to Phase 5. Just over a month later (June 11) it was raised again to Phase 6, the level of an actual pandemic. The abrupt change in numbers should have been a wake-up call to the WHO that something had gone wrong in its data collection. Yet despite the suspicious changes, there was no attempt to improve the process of data collection in terms of laboratory confirmation. In fact quite the opposite occurred. Following the Phase 6 pandemic announcement, the CDC decided that data collection of individual confirmed and probable cases was no longer necessary to determine the spread of swine flu. The WHO ignored the change in data collection and that same month predicted with authority that “as many as 2 billion people could become infected over the next two years—nearly one-third of the world population.” The report created an atmosphere of fear and insecurity.

By August 2009, the WHO casually acknowledged that the underlying symptoms were moderate and that “most people will recover from swine flu within a week, just as they would from seasonal forms of influenza.”

The inaccurate data collection exaggerated numbers of infected people due to the CDC’s quantitative model created in July 2009. From April 15 to July 24, 2009, states reported a total of 43,771 confirmed and probable cases of novel influenza A (H1N1) infection. Of these reported cases, 5,011 people were hospitalized and 302 died.

On July 24, 2009, counts were discontinued by the CDC. Instead of collecting data that could have provided empirical backing for assessments of how the H1N1 virus was spreading, the CDC announced that it had developed its model to determine the true number of novel H1N1 flu cases in the United States.

The CDC further stated, “The model took the number of cases reported by states and adjusted the figure to account for known sources of underestimation,” such as accounting for people who never reported their illness, despite no proof that these infected people existed. These estimations caused an inaccurate and basically made-up figure of infections. The CDC recognized early in the outbreak that, once the disease was widespread, it would be more valuable to transition to standard surveillance systems to monitor illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The CDC’s data was then used to justify massive vaccinations, which created huge profits for the pharmaceutical industry. The CDC posits that the data sent to them by the states is “underestimated.” The CDC then inflates figures of “unconfirmed” cases, many of which are cases of seasonal influenza. The “corrected figures” are then inserted into the model. Using the CDC model approach, it is estimated that more than one million people became ill with novel H1N1 flu between April and June 2009 in the United States. Since these estimates are not based on confirmed illness, the numbers can grow and shrink at the whim of those controlling the model. The CDC’s model simulations and predictions of the spread of H1N1 swine flu are then used to plan the implementation of a nationwide vaccination program. Based on the model’s “predictions,” mass vaccination of half of the US population is required, with the possible provision for quarantines under civilian and/or military jurisdiction.

According to reports, the US government expected to have 85 million doses of the vaccine by the end of October 2009. The US government had ordered 195 million doses from the pharmaceutical companies. On July 29, 2009, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)—an advisory committee to the CDC—recommended that novel H1N1 flu vaccine be made available first to priority groups; these groups together would equal approximately 159 million individuals. The Agence France-Presse reported that the United States put in orders for the vaccine that would cover between 30 and 78 percent of Americans. As a result, the pharmaceutical industry gained massive profits from Americans who purchased an unnecessary and potentially dangerous vaccine in large quantities.

It is essential that physicians, epidemiologists, and health workers speak out through their respective associations and refute the government officials who are acting on behalf of the pharmaceutical industry, as well as denounce the manipulation of data. An accurate method of counting infected people has to be created in time for the next pandemic, should one hit, in order to better serve the needs of the public. It is also important to warn the public on the dangers of untested H1N1 flu vaccines. The WHO cannot accurately serve the people it claims to serve without the cooperation of groups like the CDC. Sadly, the CDC is not protecting humanity because it is too busy expanding the bottom line of the pharmaceutical industry.

Source:

Michel Chossudovsky, “The H1N1 Swine Flu Pandemic: Manipulating the Data to Justify a Worldwide Public Health Emergency,” Global Research, August 25, 2009, http://www.globalresearch.ca/PrintArticle.php?articleId=14901

  • Paula Kinzer October 17, 2010

    Thank you so much for continuing to an excellent job of “Project Censored.” I was curious if anyone has calculated the cost to the American tax payer?

    Respectfully,
    Paula Kinzer
    Sonoma State University, Alum

  • Gyst October 21, 2010

    This article is a good example of media manipulation.

    The thesis of the article seems to in part rely on how the CDC decided to do it’s modeling on the infections. It then seems to jump to the conclusion that since the CDC data had extrapolation it wasn’t reliable. I’m pretty sure all large amounts of surveys of this kind have general correcting math. Then, because it uses some sort of error correcting (how else would you do it?), the authors jump to the conclusion that it must have been those slimy pharmaceutical companies.

    Look, it’s simple. This particular flu strain had many unique properties (e.g. it was particularly contagious and healthy people seemed susceptible to it) and the CDC was very uncertain as to how dangerous it would become. You really can’t tell how dangerous a flu virus is until it’s killed a whole bunch of people; something the CDC didn’t want to have to deal with. So, they took the safe route and said we should ramp up production.

    I don’t doubt that pharmaceutical companies are shameless and didn’t help, but this is probably -always- the case and I’m not sure how an occasional panic about new flu viruses seems like out of place corruption. With the media how it is today, even saying something calmly about something even remotely dangerous causes mass media hype. Case in point here.

  • Crystal Elinski October 24, 2010

    We should start a massive class action lawsuit against the bastards

  • Sally November 2, 2010

    Gyst–just go away. It’s very touching how the CDC is so concerned for us. What a fairy tale. Meanwhile the only thing more “dangerous” than a flue virus is the vaccine. How strange that their concern and compassion simply vanishes when reports start coming back about dangerous reactions from the vaccine, even including deaths. But the media buried that even deeper.

    Your last paragraph is so manipulative. So you throw in how the pharmaceutical companies are “shameless” But you don’t really care if they’re “shameless” at all. It doesn’t really matter to you. You just want to dismiss the silly ordinary people and label it all as “mass media hype” when they actually decide to complain about the crap going on.

    So–what pharmacy did you say you worked for? Gyst? Hmm…interesting name.

  • Jenny Goddard December 1, 2010

    I think Sally’s answer to Gyst was bang on.
    I could not have put it any better. Thank you Sally.
    You can see these (paid?) misinformers at a glance now days.

  • Steven December 17, 2010

    I agree with Gyst. If my job was to ensure that a pandemic does not kill millions of people, I would always prefer to be safe rather than sorry. When the data is not perfect (and it certainly was not), you have to make a judgement call. I’d like to see all the deniers and conspiracy theorists out here having to face this situation. I doubt you would say “Nah, I don’t think it will evolve beyond killing 10,000 people or so. So no need to recommend vaccination”. How would you feel if your decision turned out to cause a repeat of the Spanish flu?

  • Becca January 3, 2011

    I love these articles, but it does trouble me that it includes this statement:

    “Responding to such terrifying language, Massachusetts’s legislation introduced hefty fines and prison sentences for those who refused to be vaccinated. ”

    As a Massachusetts resident, I never heard even a WHISPER of any such legislation during the H1N1 media blitz. When I first read this, I was fairly confident that it was never made law (I also checked it out on a urban myth website or two, though I understand these cannot always be trusted). Apparently, both the urban myths sites and I were factually wrong in that there apparently was legislation.

    But, it is misleading in that the statement implies immediacy; it is worded in such a way as to give the impression that this just happened in response to the conversation, debate, media coverage of the H1N1 flu strain recently. And it’s not as cut and dried as a state legislature passing a law in a panic over pharma hype.

    I CAN state with complete and total confidence that the residents of this state were NEVER told we were mandated to get an H1N1 vaccination, and certainly they would have told us if it where really the law requiring heavy fines and even prison time in effect for the H1N1 ‘emergency’? There was a ton of media coverage on the whole thing. I’m surprised they never mentioned this: they made sure to warn us plenty in advance when the new new no-texting while driving law went into effect.

    Knowing the company for which I work, I KNOW they would have made sure we were aware, since they offered free H1N1 shots when they became available to us low risk types here (I passed). We have a good sized legal department and it’s very thorough. I’m certain they would have been aware, as would our health insurance company, which communicates constantly to use about healthy habits, and getting our vaccinations (including H1N1).

    I did some more internet searches. I did find this sentence in an article titled “Senator Richard T Moore Issues Statement on 2028″ on masslpa.org:

    “…U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Jacobson v. Massachusetts [197 U.S. 11 (1905)], mandatory vaccination is deemed “a legitimate exercise of the state’s police power to protect the public health and safety of its citizens.” The state has the authority to vaccinate, but has stated that it will not mandate such action in the case of H1N1.”

    At answers.com, I found this:

    “This seminal case on the nature of the police power—the legal basis for state authority in the field of public health—involved a compulsory vaccination regulation of the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Board of Health. The defendant refused to be vaccinated and contended that the requirement invaded his liberty and was hostile to “the right of every freeman to care for his own body and health in such a way as to him sees fit.” But the Court held that…”

    [Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/landmark-public-health-laws-and-court-decisions#ixzz19wRq1lfD

    So, whatever Mass law Jacobsen was fighting was NOT an actual state law (Cambridge being a city, not a state). And it was introduced and passed a long, long time ago, not really in response to our recent H1N1 episode. Though, to be fair, the statement is not actually incorrect, just misleading, since, “such terrifying language” probably WAS uttered over 100 years ago, now. And, the ULTIMATE result IS the same: the state has been deemed to have the power to force us to, if it decides it is urgent enough. But, they didn’t. Yay! In Jacobsen’s case, I believe it might have been smallpox. I have been vaccinated for smallpox, as a child. Smallpox was essentially eliminated, so in that case, was it justified? in those days, pharma like that was actually for the public good, not for profit. Just look into Jonas Salk.

    I hope Project Censored will clarify that statement. It really does impact my sense of trust in them. When I read that statement, my heart jumped, I got afraid, then I thought about what I had actually experienced. At first, those words created fear of overwhelming power forcing me to do something I honestly don’t agree with. But, people who weren’t in Massachusetts during the H1N1 media blitz don’t have that reality check. We rely on things like Project Censored for that.

    Things are scary enough without the ‘good guys’ scaring us unnecessarily, too. I didn’t doubt that organizations, powerful elements of the ‘government’, and the media were manipulating us about H1N1. But, I am not convinced that all the concern expressed at the time was all hype, either. And, it does appear that the states and the federal government didn’t consider the threat to rise to the level of mandating vaccination, though they do appear to have the power.

    I’m sure this misleading little sentence is an honest mistake which is why I am writing this response. Truth is truth and oh so very precious in today’s world of wall to wall lies and mass psychological manipulation. This is one place we can go for truth (which isn’t just being factually accurate as far as it goes, but must also include clarity in the subtle ways, too). Truth helps us to build an accurate and realistic model of our world. Implying that this law was just passed, even inadvertently, misleads us to a wrong (fearful and outraged) conclusion.

  • Lucila Allio January 10, 2011

    There’s a serious controversy today and a lot of warmed ideas as to whether or not to receive the actual ##keyword## . When you obtain it? Just what aspects in case you look at before making your decision? The purpose of this post is to consider the professionals, negatives and also options you have.

  • ez September 12, 2011

    Again, another hilarious article written by the fear mongering high school writers at project censored.  Let me cherry pick this fantastic bit of diatribe  “…Americans who purchased an unnecessary and potentially dangerous vaccine in large quantities.”  FYI, novel H1N1 2009 changed both the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase simultaneously to such a significant degree that pre-existing immunity in young people was non-existent.  Historically these kind of events have occasionally been associated with epidemic flu seasons.  If you pick up a history book, millions of people have died in these events.  We actually saw an increase in very severe influenza in pregnant patients because of H1N1 2009.  There was reason to be concerned and be prepared.  Vaccination is a key component of preparation.  While there are risks to any intervention, including vaccines, these are measured compared to benefits.  In this case, benefits FAR outweighed the risks. Please, please, finish school and enlighten yourselves before you continue to waste time writing about Public Health issues you have no clear understanding of.

  • ez September 12, 2011

    Again, another hilarious article written by the fear mongering high school writers at project censored.  Let me cherry pick this fantastic bit of diatribe  “…Americans who purchased an unnecessary and potentially dangerous vaccine in large quantities.”  FYI, novel H1N1 2009 changed both the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase simultaneously to such a significant degree that pre-existing immunity in young people was non-existent.  Historically these kind of events have occasionally been associated with epidemic flu seasons.  If you pick up a history book, millions of people have died in these events.  We actually saw an increase in very severe influenza in pregnant patients because of H1N1 2009.  There was reason to be concerned and be prepared.  Vaccination is a key component of preparation.  While there are risks to any intervention, including vaccines, these are measured compared to benefits.  In this case, benefits FAR outweighed the risks. Please, please, finish school and enlighten yourselves before you continue to waste time writing about Public Health issues you have no clear understanding of.

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