For the past months we have been ravaged by an unprecedented amount of news on the swine flu. When you realize that each year one million people die of malaria, a disease that can be easily prevented by insecticide-treated bed nets, yet, the media is silent. Each year, two million children die from diarrhea, although this could also be prevented by a very inexpensive and banal serum, yet, the media is silent. Each year, 10 million people die of chicken pox, pneumonia and infirmities which could be cured by vaccines, yet the media is silent. In contrast, about a decade ago when the famous bird flu appeared, the international media continuously poured information onto us on this particular threat. They claimed: “A pandemic!” Interestingly, bird flu caused the death of some 250 people in 10 years, or 25 deaths per year. However, the common flu kills half a million people each year worldwide, meaning, half a million against 25!
Hold on, please, hold on! Then, why you may wonder there was such a commotion on the bird flu? We’ll tell you why; behind each chicken, there is a rooster with a very large comb on its head. The giant pharmaceutical company Roche with its famous Tamiflu has sold millions and millions of doses to Asian countries. Although the efficacy of Tamiflu is doubtful, the British government has purchased 14 millions of doses to protect its population. Thus, thanks to the bird flu, Roche and Relenza, the two major pharmaceutical companies have pocketed millions of dollars in profits.
Now, here comes the media commotion about the swine flu! And the media all over the world can’t stop talking about it. We wonder; if behind each chicken is a rooster, wouldn’t it be a large swine behind a pig? The North American company Gilead Sciences holds the patent on Tamiflu, and the major stock holder is no less than Donald Rumsfeld, the former Minister of Defense of the Bush administration and architect of the war with Iraq.
The stockholders of the pharmaceutical giants Roche and Relenza must relish at the prospect of selling millions of Tamiflu doses worldwide. In fact, the real pandemic is that of money and the enormous profits that can be had on account of health. I am not denying taking precautions; however, if this pandemic looks as terrible as pictured in the media, why not undertake the production of a generic medication to combat it, and distribute it free of charge around the world, especially to poor countries? In spite of the risk posed by the proliferation of this disease, no precaution has been taken with regard to destinations at risk. What is being done to combat the pandemic risk? Nothing. Why? Due to the worldwide financial crisis, what better tool to distract people’s attention than a good pandemic!