The World Health Organization has rejected all accusations that it was unduly influenced to declare a pandemic state of emergency for the H1N1 influenza virus. This was during hearings at the Council of Europe, the 47-nation Strasbourg-based human rights defence body.
The top flu expert for the United Nations health agency was categorical. Dr Keiji Fukuda, WHO Special Advisor on the Pandemic Influenza, said: “The labelling of the pandemic as fake is to ignore recent history and science, and to trivialise the deaths of over 14,000 people and the many serious additional illnesses experienced by others. So, let me state clearly for the record: the influenza pandemic policies and responses recommended and taken by the WHO were not improperly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry.”
Not only the WHO but the decisions by health authorities of national governments to buy vaccines and anti-virals were called into question.
German expert Wolfgang Wodarg said: “We have to defend public health interests, and what we have experienced now is that millions of people have been vaccinated unnecessarily. This is damage done to people, in order to earn money. And we cannot tolerate such an action by such an important agency as the WHO.”
The pandemic proved milder than experts predicted, and vaccine makers said side-effects were weak or moderate. Many countries ordered far more vaccine than they used and are now trying to cut the orders or sell off surplus. Details on payment for cancellations with drug firms have been kept largely confidential.