Governments Accused Of Panicking Over Swine Flu

A boy reacts as he is vaccinated against swine flu

A blizzard of inquiries into the handling of the swine flu pandemic, which began one year ago, have been launched amid allegations that governments around the world over-reacted to the threat. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has been accused of crying wolf over its decision last June to declare the H1N1 virus a pandemic, the first for 40 years, which could turn out to be the weakest in history. Early in the pandemic, the Department of Health said it was planning on the basis of a "worst case scenario" of up to 65,000 deaths. Up to 15 April there had been 474 deaths from swine flu in Britain compared with 2,000 to 4,000 from seasonal flu in an average year, which targets the elderly. The Government, which ordered 100 million doses of vaccine, announced earlier this month announced that it had "over-bought" 30 million doses, worth £150m. Paul Flynn, the British Labour MP who is drafting its report for an inquiry being conducted by the Council of Europe, said: "The next time someone cries wolf over a pandemic, the overwhelming majority will not take it seriously. A pandemic cannot be whatever the WHO declares it to be."

Jeremy Laurance, The Independent

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