WHO counters charges it faked flu pandemic
for Big Pharma
In a press conference on 14 January, Keiji Fukuda, the chief flu
scientist at the World Health Organisation, responded to allegations WHO
created a ‘fake’ influenza pandemic in collusion with powerful
pharmaceutical companies to promote the sale of their patented vaccines.
The allegations were led in mid December last year by Wolfgang Wodarg, a
German physician and former member of the German Parliament for the
Social Democratic Party. In a statement he and other members of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe’s Social, Health and
Family Affairs Committee declared: “In order to promote their patented
drugs and vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies influenced
scientists and official agencies, responsible for public health
standards to alarm governments worldwide and make them squander tight
health resources for inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly
expose millions of healthy people to the risk of an unknown amount of
sideeffects of insufficiently tested vaccines.
“The ‘birds-flu’ campaign (2005/06) combined with the
“swine-flu”-campaign seem to have caused a great deal of damage not only
to some vaccinated patients and to public health-budgets, but to the
credibility and accountability of important international
Wodarg’s full statement is available online:
However, it is not clear what support Wodarg has, as according to the
Science Insider blog only14 members of the 100-strong committee signed
the statement. In response the WHO denied that they had faked the
epidemic under the influence of Big Pharma to promote their vaccines.
In a statement the WHO said: “WHO recognizes that global cooperation
with a range of partners, including the private sector, is essential to
pursue public health objectives today and in the future. Numerous
safeguards are in place to manage conflicts of interest or perceived
conflicts of interest among members of WHO advisory groups and expert
committees. Expert advisers provide a signed declaration of interests to
WHO detailing any professional or financial interest that could affect
the impartiality of their advice. WHO takes allegations of conflict of
interest seriously and is confident of its decisionmaking independence
regarding the pandemic influenza.
“Additional allegations that WHO created a ‘fake’ pandemic to bring
economic benefit to industry are scientifically wrong and historically
The WHO notes the following:
● Lab analyses showed that this influenza virus was genetically and
antigenically very different from other influenza viruses circulating
● Epidemiological information provided by Mexico, the US and Canada
demonstrated person-to-person transmission.
● Clinical information, especially from Mexico, indicated this virus
also could cause severe disease and death. At the time, those reports
did not indicate a pandemic situation, but taken together sent a very
strong warning to WHO and other public health authorities to be ready
● As the pandemic evolved, clinicians identified a very severe form of
primary viral pneumonia, which was rapidly progressive and frequently
fatal, that is not part of the disease pattern seen during seasonal
influenza. While these cases were relatively rare, they imposed a heavy
burden on intensive care units.
● Geographical spread was exceptionally rapid.
● On 29 April 2009, WHO reported lab confirmed cases in 9 countries.
● About 6 weeks later, on 11 June, WHO reported cases in 74 countries
and territories in more than two WHO regions. It is this global spread
which led WHO to call for increasing phases and finally, to announce
that a pandemic was underway.
● By 1 July, infections had been confirmed in 120 countries and
Fukuda noted that the International Health Regulations – global public
health rules and regulations that entered into force in 2007 – require a
review of how the WHO handled the pandemic situation. He said that study
will be carried with the help of independent experts and the results
will be made public.
Philips wins 13 prestigious iF
has received 13 awards in the 2010 iF product design competition. The
awards received, covering five categories, are in recognition of
Philips’ people-focused design in creating valuable simplified solutions
in the area of health and well-being.
In the Health and Care category, products for which the company received
● The PageWriter Cardiographs
TC50/TC30 – a range of touch screen ECG readers. The easy to use devices
are compact, integrating a full keyboard, colour LCD touch screen and
full sized paper tray and printer.
● The Pediatric Emergency Department which makes use of Philips’s
Ambient Experience to reduce stress with the use of lighting, sound,
images. Patient rooms are embedded with digital sounds, lighting and
animations that children can enjoy and control themselves.
● The Lifeline PERS Cordless Phone System provides a Personal Emergency
Response Service (PERS) for frail, elderly seniors, enabling them to
maintain their independence and continue living at home. The wearable
personal help button and PERS telephone base station provides
subscribers with a direct connection to the Lifeline service solution
offering immediate assistance.
Philips also won awards in the Audio & Video; Kitchen/ Household;
Lighting; and Advanced Studies categories. The prestigious iF design
award is recognized worldwide with more than 20 internationally
recognised jurors selecting the products.
Out of 2,486 products from 38 countries entered in the competition this
year, the jury of the iF product design award has chosen a total of 778
products as the best designs for 2010. All prize-winning products will
be presented at the iF design exhibition 2010 in Hanover, Germany, which
opens on March 2 and runs until August this year.
US FDA moves to reduce exposure to
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has introduced an initiative
to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure from three types of medical
imaging procedures: computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine studies,
and fluoroscopy. These procedures are the greatest contributors to total
radiation exposure within the US population and use much higher
radiation doses than other radiographic procedures, such as standard
X-rays, dental X-rays, and mammography.
reports that the initiative could be in response to media reports of
rising exposure to medical radiation in the US population.
CT, nuclear medicine, and fluoroscopic imaging have led to early
diagnosis of disease, improved treatment planning, and image-guided
therapies that help save lives every day. The FDA said in a statement
that it continues to support a strong dialogue between patients and
physicians over the medical necessity and risk associated with these
types of imaging studies.
However, like all medical procedures, CT, nuclear medicine, and
fluoroscopy pose risks. These types of imaging exams expose patients to
ionizing radiation, a type of radiation that can increase a person’s
lifetime cancer risk. Accidental exposure to very high amounts of
radiation also can cause injuries, such as skin burns, hair loss and
cataracts. The FDA points out that healthcare decisions made by patients
and their physicians should include discussions of the medical need and
associated risks for each procedure.
While remarking that the amount of radiation Americans are exposed to
from medical imaging has dramatically increased over the past 20 years,
Jeffrey Shuren, MD, JD, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and
Radiological Health said: “The goal of FDA’s initiative is to support
the benefits associated with medical imaging while minimizing the
risks.” The FDA notes that while there is some disagreement over the
extent of the cancer risk associated with exposure to radiation from
medical imaging, there is broad agreement that steps can and should be
taken to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure.
Gates Foundation commit $10bn for
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will commit US$10 billion over the
next 10 years to help research, develop and deliver vaccines for the
world’s poorest countries, Bill Gates announced in late January at the
World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.
“We must make this the decade of vaccines,” said Gates. “Vaccines
already save and improve millions of lives in developing countries.
Innovation will make it possible to save more children than ever
The foundation used a model developed by a consortium led by the
Institute of International Programs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg
School of Public Health to project the potential impact of vaccines on
childhood deaths over the next 10 years.
By significantly scaling up the delivery of life-saving vaccines in
developing countries to 90% coverage – including new vaccines to prevent
severe diarrhoea and pneumonia – the model suggests that the deaths of
some 7.6 million children under 5 from 2010-2019 could be prevented. The
foundation also estimates that the lives of an additional 1.1 million
children could be saved with the rapid introduction of a malaria vaccine
beginning in 2014, bringing the total number of potential lives saved to
Melinda Gates commented: “We’ve made vaccines our number-one priority at
the Gates Foundation because we’ve seen firsthand their incredible
impact on children’s lives.”
If additional vaccines are developed and introduced in this decade –
such as for tuberculosis – even more lives could be saved.
The new funding is in addition to the $4.5 billion that the Gates
Foundation has already committed to vaccine research, development and
delivery to date across its entire disease portfolio since its
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said that many of the recent
advances in vaccine development and delivery have been driven by
public-private partnerships, such as the GAVI Alliance and the Rotavirus
Vaccine Program at PATH, which coordinate the resources and expertise of
vaccine companies, donors, UNICEF, WHO, the World Bank, and developing
These partnerships are “transforming the business of vaccines”, Gates
said. The GAVI Alliance, launched at the World Economic Forum 10 years
ago, has reached 257 million additional children with new and underused
vaccines, and prevented 5 million future deaths. In the coming years,
GAVI will focus on rapidly introducing vaccines to tackle diarrhoea and
Isotopes shortage cause for concern
SNM, an international scientific
and medical organisation
which focuses on issues related
to molecular imaging, has
cautioned that a long-term
solution is urgently needed to
resolve the worldwide shortage
of medical isotopes.
Although a short-term solution
has been reached
following a deal with the Maria
Research Reactor in Poland
which is estimated to be able
to produce sufficient
Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) to supply up to one million
patient doses of Technetium-
99m (Tc-99m) within the next
six months, there is concern
that this is only a short-term
“We are pleased by the level
of international cooperation
and coordination that is taking
place to help resolve some of
the continuing challenges that
we face due to the ongoing
medical isotope shortage,” said
Michael M. Graham, PhD,
MD, president of SNM. “This
will help. However, we need to
establish a stable source closer
to the US.”
There are currently only five
major producers of Mo-99 –
the decay product of which is
Tc-99m – in the world, with
none in the United States. In
the US, 16 million diagnostic
medical tests are performed
annually using Tc-99m to
detect cancer, heart disease,
thyroid disease and other
Robert W. Atcher, PhD,
M.B.A, chair of SNM’s
Domestic Isotope Availability
Task Force, commented:
“There may be some shortterm
patients in Europe. However,
this is only a short-term fix to a
According to a statement by SNM, the reactor at Petten in
the Netherlands was expected
to go offline in February for a
period of four to six months.
Compounding problems, the
Canadian government recently
announced that the AECL
reactor in Chalk River would
remain offline at least through
early April. The AECL reactor
has been offline since May
2009 due to significant maintenance
issues. Combined, the
Petten and AECL reactors
supply the US with more than
80% of its Mo-99 supply.