South Wales Argus
By David Deans
June 22, 2010
'WASTE OF MONEY': Newport West MP Paul Flynn
A GWENT MP slammed the worldwide health body that declared swine flu a pandemic last year in a report for a European organisation.
Newport West MP Paul Flynn said the World Health Organisation had “cried wolf” over the virus and was in danger of being ignored by the public in future.
In a report written for the Council of Europe and to be presented to it later in the week, Mr Flynn argues governments wasted huge sums of money on vaccines that were not needed.
Health authorities across Europe found their priorities diverted in their response to the declaration of a swine flu pandemic, he said, allegedly made after the WHO changed its definition of a pandemic so that it no longer considered how many infections or deaths had taken place.
It added that people’s health were also put at risk through vaccines and medications that might not have been tested enough before being authorised.
Governments, meanwhile, were under pressure to start “sleeping contracts” they had with pharmaceutical firms set up to supply vaccines for pandemic flu, the report said.
Overall the WHO was in danger of the public not taking notice of any future infectious diseases after it had “cried wolf” over avian flu and SARS.
The MP produced the report as part of his work on the council’s Social Health and Family Affairs Committee.
Mr Flynn said: “This was bad science and it was possibly influenced more by the needs of the pharmaceutical companies to make profits rather than the priorities of public health.”
The Council of Europe is a different organisation to the ones that make up the European Union, representing 47 countries that have signed up to the European convention on human rights.
The Chief Medical Officer for Wales Dr Tony Jewell said: "These allegations have been raised before. It is easy with hindsight to say things should have been done differently."
He added: "When the infection first arrived, we didn't know how severe it would be and the potential impact. Therefore the only prudent course of action was to plan for a worst-case scenario - based on scientific advice.
"To do otherwise would have been irresponsible."
Deborah Cohen & Philip Carter, British Medical Journal