I have been following swine flu in the news since the first outbreak in Mexico in the spring of 2009. There was and is what I perceive to be a lot of media hype around a disease that has so far killed far less people than regular influenza. The regular flu kills approx. 250,000 – 500,000 people each year worldwide. So far, the swine flu has only killed less than 2000 people since April.
Although the swine flu is a relatively mild disease that for the most part only kills immunocompromised people, the press is now arguing that the virus could mutate into a more deadly disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that it *could* mutate into a deadlier strain, which has to be the only reason why they declared swine flu to be a pandemic, since it kills less people than the regular flu, yet WHO does not seem to be particularly worried about the regular flu. So far, the swine flu has been around for months, and there is no sign of it mutating into a deadlier disease. In fact, just as I thought, there is now evidence that it will not mutate into something deadlier: http://www.miamiherald.com/living/health/healthAP/story/1212356.html There goes their justification for declaring the swine flu a pandemic! But, they say, it spreads more easily than the regular flu. Since swine flu a mild disease, most people that get it recover from it, so there is still nothing to worry about.
Since there is no actual hard evidence that the swine flu is deadlier than the regular flu, my only guess about why it has been hyped so much in the media is the motivation of greed. The pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the flu vaccine stand to make billions of dollars from the swine vaccine alone. Scaremongering also increases the use of antiviral drugs once swine flu is diagnosed, since people have been led to think that the swine flu is a deadly and serious disease.
One very good reason not to get the swine flu vaccine is that the disease is relatively benign, so there is really nothing to worry about anyway. Another very good reason, and a more worrying one, is that the swine flu vaccine is very likely going to be a lot more dangerous than getting the disease. Because WHO declared the swine flu to be a pandemic, the pharmaceutical companies have been allowed to rush through the testing of the vaccine in order to prepare for the 2009 flu season. There is no long-term data about the side effects of this vaccine, therefore we really have no idea whether it is safe: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090815/vaccine_safety_090816/20090816/
Another worry in terms of the vaccine’s safety is the use of adjuvants in some batches of the swine flu vaccine. Adjuvants are sometimes put into vaccines to make the vaccine’s effect more powerful. One adjuvant is squalene, an ingredient used in the Anthrax vaccine in the early 90′s. Squalene has been linked to Gulf War syndrome, a multi-symptom rheumatic disorder experienced by veterans of the Gulf War after receiving the Anthrax vaccine: http://www.autoimmune.com/GWSGen.html Unfortunately, squalene is also an ingredient in some batches of the swine flu vaccine.
As if all this information is not disturbing enough, very recently a letter from the Health Protection Agency, intended for neurologists, was leaked to the press warning practitioners to be on the alert for an increase in Guillain Barre syndrome after the swine flu vaccine has been administered to the public. Guillain Barre syndrome is a severe neurological disorder that was caused by the 1976 swine flu vaccine during the last swine flu pandemic. During the 1976 swine flu pandemic, more people died from the swine flu vaccine than the actual disease: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1206807/Swine-flu-jab-link-killer-nerve-disease-Leaked-letter-reveals-concern-neurologists-25-deaths-America.html
Not only is the safety of the swine flu vaccine questionable, but so is its efficacy. As I mentioned before, no long term studies of the effectiveness of the swine flu have been done because it’s such a new disease. We can only guess how effective the swine flu vaccine will be by comparing it to the effectiveness of the regular flu vaccine, since these vaccines are made in a similar manner (though there are no adjuvants in the regular flu vaccine which probably makes it a lot safer). A comprehensive review of the studies on the regular flu vaccine efficacy concludes that the vaccine is no more effective than administering a placebo: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/333/7574/912
Not only is the swine flu vaccine on very shaky ground, but the traditional antiviral drugs used to treat it are also dangerous and ineffective. A recent CNN article questions the safety and efficacy of Tamiflu and Relenza, two antiviral drugs that are used by doctors to treat the swine flu: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/08/11/influenza.children.tamiflu.relenza/index.html The article summarizes some studies on antiviral drugs in the treatment of the flu virus, and what they found was that they did not reduce the risk of flu-related complications. Side effects of antivirals include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. The article concludes that giving antivirals to children for the flu does more harm than good.
If you are concerned about the swine flu, or even the regular flu, which is more deadly, there are safe, effective alternative options available. Homeopathy is a safe and effective prevention and treatment option for the flu. Click here to read my article about homeopathic treatment of the flu in the Georgia Straight newspaper. Click here to learn more about homeopathic flu immunizations.
By Sonya McLeod
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