Swine flu Piglet ’pandemic’

By Michael Fumento

Washington Times, October 20, 2009
Copyright 2009 The Independent Journalism Project

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College campus cases are the lowest in a month.

A quick look at the calendar indicates you’re not supposed to be looking at calendars. You’re supposed to be dead. Well, a lot of us anyway.

Just eight weeks ago headlines screamed: “Swine Flu May Cause 90,000 U.S. Deaths.” They came from a so-called “plausible scenario” in a report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, which was actually a range of 30,000 to 90,000. And they expected it to peak . . . right now.

Instead, total deaths since Aug. 30 from "Influenza and Pneumonia-Associated" illness are 2,029 reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site FluView. But only 292 of those have been laboratory-confirmed as flu of any type. (And yes, people die of pneumonia from many causes other than flu.) By comparison, the CDC estimates about 260 Americans die each day from "regular" flu during each season.

The President’s Council is led by Obama’s controversial “science czar” John Holdren, — who co-authored one book advocating U.S. “de-development” and another suggesting compulsory measures to reduce the population. The Council must have known its scenario was bogus (One member, Peter Palese made clear to me it wasn’t approved by unanimous consent). Data from all over the world showed that swine flu is far milder than the seasonal variety. In New York City, it’s been at most a tenth as lethal as seasonal flu.

In southern hemisphere countries such as Australia and New Zealand, where the official flu seasons have ended, there have been fewer flu deaths than normal. And the Swine Flu Count Website shows about as many swine flu deaths worldwide in the last six months as the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates die every six days from seasonal flu. The FluTracker Web site provides a running tally of new worldwide cases and deaths, telling us they are no more frequent than a month ago.

The massive outbreak on college campuses you’ve been hearing about? The American College Health Association’s latest weekly survey at this writing shows a steady decline in cases over the last four weeks. The “explosion” has been imploding.

What we’re seeing is "pandemic panic." FluView reports that only 29 percent of samples from surveillance laboratories are testing positive for swine flu. That means that fewer than a third of the samples that even doctors (much less scared patients) suspect may show swine flu actually show influenza of any type.

The WHO essentially declared a Ford to be a Ferrari, so the media and professionals like the President’s Council have simply assumed Fords can go 200 MPH.

Another indicator of hysteria is that the percentage of visits to emergency rooms and outpatient clinics by people worried they have the flu — and worried enough to seek medical attention — is incredibly high: almost 7 percent of all US emergency visits now.

That’s the most it’s been since 2004 and it’s skyrocketing. Scared people are indeed swamping emergency rooms, and schools are closing. But it’s not flu-driven; it’s fear-driven. The media write articles about panicky people, thereby creating more panicky people. Whoever said there’s no such thing as a perpetual motion machine?

This is a pandemic in name only. When the WHO declared it one in June it was 11 weeks into the outbreak and swine flu had killed only 144 people worldwide. Yet the mildest pandemics of the 20th century killed at least a million people worldwide. How could the agency do it? Simple. It redefined “pandemic” in April, just days before announcing the swine flu outbreak, so that severity is no longer even a consideration.

The President’s Council therefore simply assumed swine flu would behave as a pandemic. Likewise for the media. And if the WHO proclaimed a Ford a Ferrari, would government commissions and the media simply assume Fords could travel 200 miles per hour?

If it served a purpose, presumably yes.

Swine flu does sicken most people who contract it, and yes it can kill. So consider getting a swine flu shot as well as the seasonal flu one even if you’re in overall good health. And do get one if you have chronic health problems. But just because somebody issues a proclamation, don’t believe that Piglet has become a raging razorback.