Monday, June 07, 2010

In like Flynn

Strasbourg, 04.06.2010 – The handling of the H1N1 pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), EU agencies and national governments led to a “waste of large sums of public money, and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public”, according to a report by the Social, Health and Family Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) made public today in Paris.

The report, prepared by Paul Flynn (United Kingdom, SOC) and approved today by the committee ahead of a plenary debate at the end of this month, says there was “overwhelming evidence that the seriousness of the pandemic was vastly overrated by WHO”, resulting in a distortion of public health priorities.

Presenting his report, Mr Flynn told the committee: “this was a pandemic that never really was”, and described the vaccination programme as “placebo medicine on a large scale”.

In its adopted text, the committee identifies what it calls “grave shortcomings” in the transparency of decision-making about the outbreak, generating concerns about the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on decisions taken. Plummeting confidence in such advice could prove “disastrous” in the case of a severe future pandemic, it warns.

In particular, the WHO and European health institutions were not willing to publish the names and declarations of interest of the members of the WHO Emergency Committee and relevant European advisory bodies directly involved in recommendations concerning the pandemic, the parliamentarians point out.

However, attending the meeting was Fiona Godlee, the Editor-in-Chief of the British Medical Journal, who told the parliamentarians that, according to an
investigation by her journal, scientists who drew up key WHO guidelines on stockpiling flu vaccines had previously been paid by drug companies which stood
to profit.
Interesting n'est-ce pas? This is damning stuff. Here's a PDF of the provisional report. I will be intrigued to see how much coverage this gets in the UK media up to and after the debate "by parliamentarians from all 47 Council of Europe member states on Thursday 24 June during PACE’s summer session in Strasbourg". Is that the same thing as the European Parliament? I'm ashamed to say I don't know.

Cardiff and St Illtyd's Paul Flynn is acknowledged as a Welsh Born Icon.


Nick Browne said...

Bought priesthood is a term originating with the United States labor press in the early to mid-20th century and popularized again more recently by dissident intellectuals like Noam Chomsky. It refers to the constellation of technocrats, columnists, pundits, university professors, public intellectuals, business lobbyists and so on who benefit from the political status quo and use their position to defend and support it.

Nick Browne said...

My guess is that there won't even be an informed public debate.

It is the accusation that players were in the pockets of big pharma that is the scandal, rather than the pros and cons of stockpiling vaccine.