Year-end Update on Avian Flu "Pandemic"

December 31, 2008  ·  Michael Fumento  ·  Weblog

I published major articles with the Weekly Standard in 2005 and 2006 (with updates elsewhere) on how, despite predictions of as many as a billion deaths from pandemic avian flu and calls for spending 2.5% of the U.S. GNP annually to prevent it, overwhelming evidence indicated the disease posed no threat to humanity.

Naturally that made me a nutcase because it was exactly the opposite of what all the quoted government officials, media-savvy scientists, journalists, and bloggers were saying. "I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and say something about this sleaze," one wrote. "What the piece shows is just how ignorant of public health Fumento really is," declared another.

Many relied heavily on an article in the November 23, 2006 New England Journal of Medicine by the prestigious uber-alarmist Robert Webster and his observation that human cases of avian flu were continuing to increase annually. As they started to decline, I asked: If an increase is so very important, why is everybody ignoring the decrease?

Now here are the 2008 year-end figures, which are dated December 16th but there have been no new cases since then.

New bird-to-human and suspected human-to-human cases dropped 23 percent from 2006 to 2007 and 54 percent from 2007 to 2008. That's a plummet of about two-thirds from just two years ago. Not incidentally, there still has never been a case in the developed world. Cases have always been under conditions of squalor that exist only in certain areas, primarily Asia.

Meanwhile, the bacterium methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, kills about 19,000 Americans of all ages each year. The federal budget for avian flu is about $5.6 billion. The budget for MRSA is practically non-existent.

You read it here first. And probably last.