First of all, let me say that my prayers go out to the people of Haiti. There are number of organizations that are taking donations online. One that I recommend is yelehaiti, a charity created by Wyclef Jean.
The swine flu "pandemic" has come to a head, and we can now look at the past year and analyze what was, and what wasn't. It seems that the swine flu was the pandemic that never was. I think the influential voices at the WHO and CDC need to own up to that, rather than continue to live in denial and justification of their actions. 50 Million people died worldwide during the 1918 flu pandemic, whereas only 12,000 people worldwide have so far died from the swine flu. The Council of Europe is looking into the possible influence of the drug companies on the WHO. Regardless of the facts, we know for sure that the pharmaceuticals that created and sold H1N1 vaccines to countries worldwide made out like bandits in profits. In addition, the scientific counsel that advises the WHO on its decisions, has connections to the pharmaceutical industry. With that connection, objectivity (as hard as one may try to maintain) is hard to sustain. The pharmaceutical industry has developed very sophisticated ways to influence the decisions doctors make, and there is no reason to believe that they would not want to influence such a decision, as it holds a huge financial benefit for them. Sure, the WHO had to react quickly, but perhaps it reacted rashly and was fueled by the worldwide panic. The next fear campaign pushing people to get the vaccine is predicting another wave of this (for the most part) mild flu. If there is another wave, I am predicting it is going to be relatively mild, since most flu cases have already played out in the first three waves (I include the first wave in April/May, the second in October, and the third in November).
Hopefully in the future, the world will move towards more reality-based predictions, or at least acknowledge the influence of fear in predictions about catastrophes and its potential to create errors in thinking. No one is infallible. We need to move away from the politics of fear to push certain agendas. The refusal of the majority of the people to get vaccinated simply shows that the population is skeptical of the propaganda. The problem is that if the WHO continues to cry wolf, as it did with the swine flu, the bird flu, and SARS -- no one's going to believe them when the real pandemic arrives. I think it is necessary to investigate the potential influence the pharmaceutical industry has on the WHO, and that any scientist sitting on their scientific advisory board with connections to the drug companies be immediately replaced by someone who has absolutely no ties. These decisions need to be made free of financial interests.
Holiday travel advice from the CDC and me. 11/22/2009
Thanksgiving is the most traveled holiday in the United States. Consequently, with flu activity still quite high, there is concern that widespread travel will bring with it a more rapid spread of the H1N1 flu virus across the country. For this reason, the CDC is recommending some common sense rules for traveling this Holiday season:
Swine flu survival is about common sense measures, combined with some less known measures that go a long way.
Isolated cases of mutated virus, Tamiflu-resistance, and lung hemorrhages in the Ukraine. 11/22/2009
Historically, previous pandemics, like the 1918 Spanish flu, have had several troughs and peaks, so it is not surprising that the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control reported this week that flu activity seems to be decreasing around the United States. This does not mean we are done with the flu for this winter. Typically, flu activity will diminish before it comes back in a second, and up to a third wave during a winter season. What's more worrisome is recent reports of Tamiflu-resistant strains evolving. Although, there have been isolated cases, this may be the early sign that a more severe wave is to come if a drug-resistant strain gains prominence. Of course, if we are only focusing on attacking the virus, and not strengthening the host -- a concept foreign to Western medicine, but very akin to Eastern medicine -- we may begin to see more cases as those reported in the Ukraine. Aside calls of panic, the Ukraine cases seem to be due to delayed access to medical care, deficient medical care (i.e. poor access to Tamiflu, a corrupt medical system), and deficiency of proper critical care equipment like ventilators. The WHO says the death rate is no greater in the Ukraine than the observed rate in other countries.
As I state in The Ultimate Swine Flu Survival Guide, it's not just about attacking the virus, the ability to fight off an infection depends on the health condition of the host. The Ukraine is far north, and if we can suspect based on U.S. rates, that vitamin D deficiency is rampant there, then by late fall, vitamin D levels have dropped to levels that make people quite susceptible to respiratory illness. Vitamin D may not be the holy grail, but it is one additional factor that we need to look at, as I write in my swine flu guide. In addition, Ukrainians may have fared better if they only knew about a safe, cheap OTC remedy for the flu from the elderberry. Studies have shown that elderberry extract works better than prescription anti-flu remedies against the flu. It has worked quite well with my patients that have contracted the H1N1 influenza virus.
Refer to these articles:
Signs That Swine Flu Has Peaked
H1N1 mutation makes swine flu virus resistant to antiviral drugs - Tamiflu doesn't work anymore
Fragile Care Worsened Swine Flu in Ukraine
Hello everybody! Welcome to a new era in healthcare. We, your government, will decide what is best for all of you. Swine flu vaccine -- we've got it and we're giving it! This is the most state-of- the-art vaccine technology can make. In fact, the swine flu is a technological wonder itself, being a chimera of two swine flu viruses, an avian flu virus, and a human influenza virus. Mammogram between 40-49 -- naahh! You don't need it. It's not cost-effective since it doesn't seem to change outcomes. I guess the American Radiological Association lobby is not as great as the pharmaceutical lobby. As universal healthcare looms in the horizon, it is probably no coincidence that the U.S. Preventive Task Force came out with these recommendations on the eve of a congressional battle over a healthcare bill.
With more than 50% of people polled saying they won't get a swine flu vaccine, it is apparent that the public is skeptical of the medicine being sold by the U.S. government, even when it comes sugar-coated with CDC honey. After all, we can trust the Centers for Disease Control, right? Well, what is it that makes people so resistant to broad recommendations that are supposedly for the benefit of all. Could it be common sense? Or is it the uncommon sense? Are they misguided?
What is right for the masses, may not be right for the individual, and what is right for the individual, may not be right for the masses. Well, this type of thinking doesn't go very far in terms of governing. Things have to be made simple, but often they are not. Individualized patient-centered healthcare should be the working model for any healthcare bill, with an emphasis on rewarding lifestyle changes and preventive behaviors. For the moment, at least the swine flu pandemic seems to be winding down a bit. However, is this the calm before the storm?
A lot of questions that should be asked, don't seem to be asked. What is the evidence that flu vaccines change outomes? What other strategies exist for preventing the flu, whether pandemic or not, besides the obvious -- wash your hands? Why are there rising rates of breast cancer in women with no family history of the disease? Are there environmental factors? What else can we do to prevent breast cancer or detect it in its early stages? What are the important outcomes we should be looking at?
Let's hope that we continue asking the right questions and finding the honest answers. That's what people want. Is anything a clear-cut yes or no. Not really. The risks and benefits of healthcare decisions need to be weighed, as do the pros and cons of any healthcare plan that comes to pass.
Moms have been reporting miscarriages on online forums within 1 week of receiving the H1N1 vaccine. Most of the moms reporting this association (which right now is not clear whether there is a cause/effect relationship), seem to have been in their first trimester or early second trimester of pregnancy. There is a baseline rate of miscarriages that does occur in healthy women for no apparent reason. Typically, in the past, it has been recommended to wait until the second or third trimester before vaccinating for the flu for fear of the vaccine's potential negative effects on the fetus, although this has not been proven. Obviously, with the fear of the swine flu's serious effects on pregnant women, there has been a strong push to vaccinate, even in the first trimester. As this would be the biggest vaccination program for pregnant women in their first trimester, we need to take a closer look at potential adverse side-effects.
Not all moms that have been reporting have noted which H1N1 vaccine they received. Since H1N1 vaccines by different manufacturers have different preservatives, it would be important to note which vaccine, by what manufacturer, and whether it was from a multi-dose vial or single-dose, prefilled syringe. The Thimerosal content in different vaccines varies. Whether Thimerosal may contribute to spontaneous abortion is not clear. A pubmed search does not reveal many studies done on Thimerosal's effect, even on pregnant laboratory animals. This is surprising since a few studies did show some effect of Thimerosal on endometrial Calcium channels, which control contractions of the uterus.
For those mommys-to-be out there that have suffered a miscarriage recently, I extend my deepest sympathies. Please share your stories here, along with the exact vaccine you received [1) Manufacturer, 2) Multidose vial, 3) Single-dose vial or syringe]. I am hoping that the CDC will look into this seriously. There should be a tracking system to discern whether there is an increase from baseline in the rate of miscarriages in pregnant women that receive the H1N1 vaccine. Historically, adverse vaccine reactions are poorly reported, as there is no requirement to report these types of reactions. A search of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) did not reveal any reports of spontaneous abortion (i.e. miscarriage). If there is an unexpected increase, we need to know ASAP and recommendations on when to vaccinate pregnant women (i.e. which trimester is safe) need to be modified immediately in order to prevent further harm.
See the following links:
Health Freedom Alliance
For those at greatest risk of complications from the swine flu, a Pneumonia vaccine may be life-saving. 11/17/2009
Secondary bacterial community-acquired pneumonia has been a frequent cause of illness and death during the influenza pandemics of the 20th century. The most common organism believed to cause this type of pneumonia is S. pneumoniae. For this type of pneumonia, we are lucky to have a Pneumococcal vaccine, that may help prevent or reduce the risk of death from acquired S. pneumoniae pneumonia. Those at risk under the age of 65 are people with chronic conditions that may include: asthma and smoking, chronic cardiovascular disease, chronic lung disease, diabetes, alcoholism, chronic liver disease, immunocompromised conditions, cancer, chronic kidney disease, and residents of nursing homes or long-term care facilities.
The only bacterial cause of pneumonia that a Pneumococcal vaccine can prevent is S. pneumoniae. There are other causes of pneumonia that would not be covered by this vaccine. Given that vaccination rates for those at risk younger than 65 is low. those that are at high risk should speak to their doctors about obtaining a Pneumovax. Pneumococcal disease is estimated to cause 500,000 cases of pneumonia and 40,000 deaths annually in the United States. The case-fatality rate from severe illness is anywhere between 15-30%.
New CDC reporting definition makes it harder to track H1N1-related hospitalizations and deaths. 11/15/2009
On August 30th, 2009, the CDC adopted a new case definition for reporting of influenza-related hospitalizations and deaths. It is no longer necessary to report 2009 H1N1 influenza cases separately; the new system allows for reporting of all types or subtypes of influenza in aggregate. With the new definitions, and the zero point reset to August 30th, "22,364 laboratory-confirmed influenza associated hospitalizations and 877 laboratory-confirmed influenza associated deaths" have been reported to the CDC from August 30 - November 7, 2009. See CDC H1N1 Flu Update for the week ending November 7, 2009.
Va. teenager diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome within 24 hrs of receiving H1N1 (swine flu) vaccine 11/15/2009
"A 14-year-old Virginia boy is weak and struggling to walk after coming down with a reported case of Guillain-Barre syndrome within hours after receiving the H1N1 vaccine for swine flu.
Jordan McFarland, a high school athlete from Alexandria, Va., left Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children Tuesday night in a wheelchair nearly a week after developing severe headaches, muscle spasms and weakness in his legs following a swine flu shot. He will likely need the assistance of a walker for four to six weeks, plus extensive physical therapy.
“The doctor said I’ll recover fully, but it’s going to take some time,” the teenager said."
Click here to read full story.
New study shows low nanomolar concentrations of Thimerosal induced in vitro toxicity to human neuronal and fetal cells. 11/14/2009
With the change in the criteria on who can order and administer vaccines, large employers like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup have been able to order swine flu vaccines for their "high-risk" employees. Is this really who will be getting the vaccine? Well, due to the city's reporting requirements (i.e. every swine flu vaccine given has to be logged in a central database), maybe we'll find out. However, there is no clear way to track this, and whether this is just another sign of corporations getting preferential treatment. Let's step back, though. These companies do tend to have multiple employees working in adjacent or nearby cubicles, so the likelihood of spread from one index case is high. Just this week, a patient called me because of flu-like symptoms, and at least two of his office mates had the swine flu, several others had "bronchitis." Well, as the flu season gets under full swing here in NYC, we will keep track of its spread as a barometer of the effectiveness of the citywide immunization program. Meanwhile, I have yet to receive preservative-free single-dose prefilled syringe doses for my high risk patients.
Here is the latest from the World Health Organization:
"There were more than 440,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1 and more than 5,700 deaths reported as of Oct. 25 to the World Health Organization, which declared the outbreak a global pandemic in June. But because many countries have stopped counting individual cases, particularly when the effects have been milder, WHO says it's likely the actual count is significantly higher. Teenagers and young adults continue to account for the majority of cases around the world, while WHO says pregnant women are 10 times more likely than the general population to check into an intensive care unit. In a typical flu season, 90% of the deaths occur in the over-65 demographic, whereas the swine flu pandemic has taken the opposite course. "This is a younger people's flu," Frieden noted." - BusinessWeek, November 2, 2009