When H1N1 initially emerged, there were fears of a global catastrophe. In hindsight, it appears H1N1 is actually milder than most seasonal flu. In light of this hindsight, institutions (governments, hospitals, etc) are wondering how real the threat of catastrophe was and whether the WHO's alarmist warnings were influenced by corporate interests, namely vaccine producers. Predictably, WHO officials say there is no link and an internal investigation is on-going. So I suppose we should expect to hear something in mid-2014 (sarcasm emoticon anyone?). I see the story perhaps somewhat differently. Initially H1N1 (then called swine flu) was a big concern. The first reports coming out of Mexico were that mortality rate was high and those dying were young to middle-aged individuals. The mortality rate was inevitably high because the denominator was too small, i.e. many more people already had H1N1 we just didn't realize it. Those affected was probably biased as well since an autopsy, or other reason for death measure, is less likely to be performed on older individuals than on seemingly healthy middle-aged individuals. <speculation>I can see a situation where WHO was very concerned and called up vaccine manufacturers to ask how quickly a vaccine could be produced. In turn , maybe WHO gave the vaccine producers some kind of guarantee about purchasing vaccine. With this guarantee, vaccine producers ramped up production capabilities. As data rolled in that provided information about the lethality of H1N1, the question is whether the WHO should still have been pushing the vaccine or not.</speculation> I will be curious to see whether there is any truth to this speculation. On a separate note, my favorite quote from the above linked article is
Dr Fukuda rejected comparisons between seasonal flu and swine flu - describing them as like comparing oranges to apples. Seasonal flu figures were based on statistical models, whereas every swine flu death had been confirmed in a laboratory, he said.
I wonder how he meant this statement. My guess is that he doesn't trust the statistical model flu figures whereas he is confidence in the H1N1 flu laboratory confirmed deaths. My interpretation is that clearly the swine flu deaths have been under-counted, similar to how the census undercounts minority groups.

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27 January 2010