Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The great swine flu swindle

We are either on the brink of extinction or all about to get a bit of a cold.
Swine flu intrigues me from a journalistic point of view.
Firstly, as a moderately fit and healthy, youngish man, I comfortably predict a bout of piggy cough will not kill me. So I clearly write this with a sense of smug satisfaction.
Swine flu fears have been in the news for months ever since a few Mexicans died from it.
Initially reports from Mexico had well over 150 dead in a few weeks of the discovery of the new strain.
Was this going to be the pandemic every national newspaper had been waiting for to take Jade Goody off the front page? Oh yes.
The word 'deadly' was attached to this pork-crackling of a cold and the world's end was comfortably predicted.
When reality bit and the actual death toll in Mexico - already renowned for its excellent health service - was revealed to be a more modest 17, who really cared?
By this time the snouty sniffle was already in Blighty.
Aaaagh the headlines screamed. We are all going to die!
Since the porcine version of the bubonic plague has been among us, 30 people have actually died. Most had 'underlying health problems' - a seemingly terminal diagnosis these days - and so the healthiest among us breathed a smallish sigh of relief.
However, when a GP and a young girl died without the prior sickness issues we were all vulnerable again.
Headlines declared us all dead. No hope for humanity, isolate yourself and keep away from the unclean lest you succumb!!
The doc, in reality, also suffered from heart disease and high blood pressure, and had viral pneumonia.
Today, we discover the young girl died from a septic shock complication due to tonsillitis.
The health authorities still do not know how many of the 30 deaths attributed to swine flu actually died from swine flu.
Normal, common or garden, get-it-once-a-year influenza kills 30,000 a year in this country.
So far swine flu has killed far less than it should. Even if it kills the predicted 65,000 that is still less than 0.1 per cent of the population.
Heart disease, is the UK's biggest killer. Based on 2005 data, there are some 227,000 heart attacks each year. More than 150,000 deaths. Do we close chippies or ban fat people from pizza restaurants. No. Are we surprised when unhealthy people die of a heart attack. No. Do we report every coronary episode. No.
So why are we all reporting on each pig flu case like it is the first time anyone caught a cold?
I don't often wear a tin foil hat, and most conspiracies are dismissed with contempt, but the stories being told around the country by every newspaper are fulfilling a great Governmental service.
Keep the state in fear and they won't ask any awkward questions about recessions, expenses, bad leadership etc.
Let's try to get this 'pandemic' into perspective.
Swine flu is a bad cold.
When the radio and television advertisements are suggesting the best cure is stay at home and take a Lemsip, you can rest assured it isn't as fatal as the newspapers are making out.


  1. I agree.

    This swine flu panic is fulfilling a Governmental service. Or, at least, the Government hopes it is.

    The more panic and fear can be created and the longer it can be sustained the more needed they hope to appear. "We could all be dead in six months, but don't worry, we'll sort it all out for you. YOU NEED US."

    Governments, particularly socialist ones, love a crisis.

  2. Nah, this is just journalistic laziness - why bother going all out to get a story? Let the nationals whip up a storm, and if you are on a local, phone a couple of schools to find out how many pupils have come down with it (or more commonly teachers, who seem to be remarkably susceptible to Swine Flu, and have gone off sick en masse just before their eight week holiday. Funny that) or talk to a couple of people down the pub, glue it to some cut and pasted government advice, and whoops, there goes another front page. A damn sight easier than going out and getting a proper story....

  3. Deep down part of me really, really wanted this to be Captain Trips...I have dreams of myself as the last living reporter in my office (of two), wiping the sweat from my brow and stifling the occasional cough whilst wrestling with the Grim Reaper in a bid to hammer out that last par of copy as the world grinds to it's inexorable end - and I'm there to write about it. That's why I do this job.

    What a damned disappointment then to see it's just another Nu Labour con...unless some mad scientist creates a mutation and sells it on to international terrorists, you never know.

  4. Oh, don't debunk the swine flu myth. Maintaining a belief that it's going to mutate into a 90% plus killer is my excuse for....
    not getting a proper job after walking out of an 'editorial management' farce.... not taking freelance shifts (all those people and crowded trains).... staying at home with the telly and biccies.... logging on to your blog.
    god knows what I'll do when the redundo money runs out.

  5. I've just returned from Europe where I saw the BBC news giving out swine flu statistics every few minutes - I'm surprised it wasn't flashing across CBeebies. European news in a language I couldn't understand only refered to the bi-election in Norwich under UK news - no swine flu reports! Is the BBC creating the panic? This will only serve to keep people away from Britain - then the tourist industry will suffer!



    so who sold all that vaccine containing seeds of future epidemics?
    Anyone know who sold to the world the thing?
    What company, what state, what what?