Press**Watch: News You're Not Supposed To Know for 2/11/10
When I was discussing Swine Flu with friends a couple of months ago, I predicted that by this month, February, it would be all that we were talking about. I'm pleased to see that I was wrong. Yet it would appear that almost no one is aware of the fact that the pandemic is still present and dangerous, and that it killed ten thousand people from April to November of last year, during an annual stretch in which few people are killed by normal flu ("CDC estimated that between about 7,070 and 13,930 2009 H1N1-related deaths occurred between April and November 14, 2009. The mid-level in this range was about 9,820 2009 H1N1-related deaths. ").
Doctor Henry Niman, the flu virus researcher that I interviewed last Fall, has published comments on his web site recombinomics.com in which he expresses concern that the disease still threatens public health. For example, in reference to deaths reported at Duke University, he writes:
...[A]lthough the three deaths were in patients on the same ward infected with the same virus at the same time, the official updates claim that the role of H1N1 in the deaths is unknown, which is the type of information used to create a fake pandemic which is based on negative data and serious downplaying of significant events in the evolution of the virus and pandemic.
The outbreak at Duke was serious. Not only was H274Y being transmitted, but the virus was killing the patients, WHO disclaimers notwithstanding. The death cluster led to concerns that the outbreak would involve D225G/N [that is, a deadly mutation of Swine Flu] which was recently confirmed in the sequences released by the CDC at GISAID.
However, the presence of D225G/N was not disclosed in the February 5, 2010 release or the December 2, 2009 release. Similarly, the association of D225G/N in this cluster was not noted in the December 28 report or the January 21 report on D225G and in fact statements were made denying transmission, even though the report stated that there were 3 examples of D225G in association with H274Y (but the examples were not detailed, so the specific link to this cluster was not made).
These deliberate omissions are used to create press releases that are factually correct, but extremely misleading. These statements rely heavily on negative or excluded data to make the statement factual and ...[thereby create] a fake pandemic that appears to markedly less severe or ominous.
These types of official statements helped create an atmosphere that have been exploited by politicians who claim the very real and dangerous pandemic has been manufactured, which will reduce the effectiveness of the vaccination program leading to unnecessary deaths in those who avoided vaccination, was well as those infected by those who avoided vaccination.
Moreover, the denial of the significance of D225G/N will likely lead to the absence of the changes in the recommended swine H1N1 target for the seasonal flu vaccine for 2010/2011, as was done for the 2010 vaccine for the southern hemisphere.
The denial of the D225G/N importance is also linked to the role of recombination in the movement of these polymorphisms from one genetic background to another. [....]
Thus, the distortions on reporting of test results and implications has created a fake pandemic, which has been exploited by politicians and internet fantasy bloggers to deny the serious H1N1 pandemic (as well as H5N1 clusters), which is hazardous to the world’s health.
More Severe H1N1 Increases In Mississippi
Recombinomics Commentary 16:38
February 08, 2010
All their temperatures were in the 103-104 F degree range and they exhibited the classic picture of "aching-all-over-like-I've-been-run-over-by-a-semi" with uncontrollable dry cough and extremely depressed energy levels.
These folks were dramatically sicker than anyone I saw with H1N1 which I described in an earlier column as "Flu Lite." The typical case of swine flu I treated in the office struck me as being about a third as debilitating as seasonal flu.
I treated these recent patients with Tamiflu and they all got better but it took longer than in previous years. I have always told flu victims in the past that, once they started on Tamiflu, they would feel better within 24 hours. Most would tell me they felt brand new the next day. This year that advice didn't work. Most of these unfortunates were in bed for three or four days and didn't feel a bit better until the third day.
The above comments of a General Practitioner in Mississippi raise concerns that the increasing severity in recent flu patients in Region 4 is widespread. Although this practitioner thinks his patients have seasonal flu, there have been no significant influenza A seasonal flu reports in MS or elsewhere in the US this season. Seasonal H1N1 has not been reported in 7 weeks, and H3N2 was reported at minimal levels, which were less than 1% of swine flu levels.
Earlier reports described more severe cases in Memphis, TN as well as UNC University Hospital in Chapel Hill, NC. Moreover, the per cent positive rate for swine H1N1 has increased to 25% for NC and 13% for Region 4 in the latest update. Region 4 also reported the first upward swings in swine H1N1 in the fall, which began in August in the south, where schools began the academic year weeks earlier than school districts in other regions in the United States.
Although widespread disinformation campaigns have been discounting the current pandemic, these anecdotal reports suggest H1N1 cases are increasing and more severe. Anecdotal reports also indicate school absenteeism is on the rise, but swine flu symptoms are being reported as bronchitis, allergies, stomachs flu, or seasonal flu, as happened during the swine flu outbreak in the fall.
Details on rising school absenteeism, which appears to be approaching 10% in some schools districts in the south, as well as sequence data from the more severe cases, would be useful.
Pandemic H1N1 Disinformation Raises Concerns
Recombinomics Commentary 21:38
February 07, 2010
The level of disinformation in the media and internet continues to grow. The latest disinformation campaign has now started calling the 2009 pandemic an epidemic. This follows disinformation on the end of the pandemic, which follows reports questioning the existence of the pandemic. This frequent and common disinformation is leading to serious confusion in the general population, which will lead to needless deaths by those who shun the pandemic vaccine and those infected by those who shun the vaccine.
The existence of the pandemic was an easy, but decidedly late, call. A flu pandemic is simply a novel strain that spreads worldwide. The detection of swine H1N1 in two children in southern California in March/April strongly suggested that the pandemic had begun. The children had no contact with swine or each other and were over 100 miles apart, indicating the detected infections represented thousands of cases in southern California, including symptomatic relatives and contacts. When the “mystery illness” that was hospitalizing and killing hundreds in Mexico was confirmed in April to be the same swine H1N1, it was clear that the pandemic had begun. The original phase 6 definition of sustained transmission of a novel strain of influenza had been met.
The swine H1N1 contained flu genes that had been circulating in swine since the 1990’s and most of the flu genes had been in swine since the 1930’s or earlier. Thus, the H1N1 was novel and the vast majority of the world’s population had no immunity, setting the stage for rapid spread worldwide. Although jumps of swine H1N1 to humans happen multiple times per year, prior jumps generally had a direct link to swine exposure and transmission was limited to family members of close contacts. The most extensive spread was in 1976 at Fort Dix in NJ where one soldier died and 200 were infected. However, the virus did not spread outside of Fort Dix and was quickly contained.
In contrast, the 2009 pandemic strain had already been detected in TX, KS, and NY by the time H1N1 from Mexico was confirmed by the US and Canada, so the viral transmission was sustained in North America. Moreover, symptoms in 150 students in one high school in Queens, NY indicated the attack rate was high and global spread had already happened, but had not yet been detected / reported.
The updated phase definitions required sustained transmission in one large area, like the Americas, for phase 5, which had also been met, while phase 6 required sustained transmission in multiple large areas, which was met as soon as widespread H1N1 was reported in Australia or UK, but the announcement was delayed until community spread in these areas was documented many times over.
Thus, when phase 6 was declared, the pandemic was well underway.
Flu pandemics typically happen in multiple waves. Although the new virus persists for years or decades, the severity of the virus is generally highest in the first several years, as the virus adapts to its new host. Initially, the virus can quickly spread because of a large naïve population. This initial wave can be mild because low levels of virus can produce successful infections and transmission. Thus, although some immunity may quickly develop in a large segment of the population, this immunity may not prevent re-infections.
In one of the initial vaccine trials in Australia, 31% of volunteers had H1N1 antibody titers of 40 or higher, indicating they had been previously infected, even though they denied such infections. Moreover, the vaccination led to higher titers in the vast majority of these patients, indicating initial infections produce a sub-optimal level of immunity. However, this level may be sufficiently high to end a wave, but not sufficiently high to prevent a new wave by a virus that is either circulating at higher levels or has relatively minor genetic changes, leading to multiple waves within one season.
This season there was an early wave, which could be considered a second wave, or just an extension of the spring wave.
However, in either event, the potential for another wave in the winter/spring is high, because conditions support the spread of influenza, and the pandemic H1N1 has crowded out seasonal H1N1 and H3N2, so the only influenza A currently circulating at significant numbers is pandemic H1N1.
In the latest CDC report (week 4), region 4 had a significant increase in the frequency of H1N1 detection in tested samples to levels that had not been seen since November, when the earlier wave was ending.
Thus, declarations of the end of the 2009 pandemic are premature, and the absence of seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 indicate the swine H1N1 will persist for years or decades, as happened with new serotypes responsible for earlier influenza pandemics. The current pandemic has already spread worldwide, so calling it an epidemic is incorrect, but such terminology has become widespread in recent media reports.
This expanding disinformation on the current pandemic is of concern and is hazardous to the world’s health.
To summarize: Swine Flu is still dangerous, possibly more so. Many more have died and millions more have been infected--that's news you're not supposed to know. Your best bet is to get a vaccination, which is now widely available. That said, the vaccination may not be up to date with the latest mutation. If you have a flu now, it's 99% likely that it is swine flu. Pneumonia is a danger to anyone who has severe flu. It kills. Don't ignore the danger signs, and if you get short of breath see a doctor. I am still recovering from Swine Flu and subsequent pneumonia and acute asthma--I am not infectious, but I have to use a steroid inhaler for some time, and I was infected in November or December. The X-ray that was taken last month showed damage to my lungs. This is not, as some bloggers would have you believe, some pharmaceutical-profits-inspired hoax. Take it from me, I hate the pharmaceutical giants with a passion; my life has been mutated since day one by a formerly profitable miracle drug.
Unfortunately, I cannot point to some better-known and well-accepted Left-of-center source for corroboration of my assessment. You will have to verify the facts and figures yourself; check the CDC's figures from their website. You can use the link I provide in the blog on kboo.fm, or search the terms. Check out Dr. Niman's credentials yourself. But don't convince yourself, without hard evidence, that you and yours are safe from swine flu. It is for such easy errors that Death maintains her ironic grin.
Did you know that the FBI anthrax investigation never discovered a match for the weaponized powder that was mailed to US Senators and journalists? (Thanks to Dan for the heads-up.):
In a recent article [ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870454100457501142122351528... ] in the Wall Street journal about the anthrax investigation, journalist Edward Jay Epstein writes, in part:
If [the deceased Amerithrax FBI target] Ivins had neither the equipment or skills to weaponize anthrax with
silicon, then some other party with access to the anthrax must have
done it. Even before these startling results, Sen. Leahy had told
Director Mueller, "I do not believe in any way, shape, or manner that
[Ivins] is the only person involved in this attack on Congress."
When I asked a FBI spokesman this month about the Livermore findings,
he said the FBI was not commenting on any specifics of the case, other
than those discussed in the 2008 briefing (which was about a year
before Livermore disclosed its results). He stated: "The Justice
Department and the FBI continue working to conclude the investigation
into the 2001 anthrax attacks. We anticipate closing the case in the
So, even though the public may be under the impression that the
anthrax case had been closed in 2008, the FBI investigation is still
open—and, unless it can refute the Livermore findings on the silicon,
it is back to square one.