How pig flu got passed onto humans
So, Swine Flu.
I saw a lady on the tube yesterday wearing a face mask, walking around like it was the new black[death]. Everyone has been taken over my Mad Sow Disease; it’s on the front page of every newspaper – it’s all on anyone can talk about. Well, frankly, it’s really starting to boar me. I blame the media; they’re all “urgh, it’s the aporkalypse” and “hear ye, hear ye – paramgeddon”.
Now before I get started I should really start by saying that I am very sorry for the families of the current 152 victims. Each and every one is a tragic loss, especially the young children and I mean no disrespect to anyone by satirising this potential (yes, that’s right, potential) pandemic.
Talking of pandemics: remember CJD? Remember the Y2K? Remember SARs? Remember Bird flu? This has happened before hasn’t it? And precisely what is the ‘this’ that has happened before? Not very much by all accounts. What purpose does all this panic serve? Maybe I should be asking whom does all this panic serve?
Us, the people? We have been forewarned of the symptoms (indistinguishable from normal flu); we have been advised on the correct anti-viral drugs (Tamiflu and rival Ralenza which hopefully have both rolled out ‘revised versions’ since 2007 when there were several reports of psychotic side-effects), we have been kept abreast of the locations of the reported cases by the media (who are kind enough also to point out to us all the suspected but not yet confirmed cases, too) and we have been educated about wearing the protection masks, (which selflessly protect everyone else around the wearer, but not the wearer themselves.) So better to be safe than sorry, right? Well, statistically speaking you are much more likely to expire of a heart attack – which isn’t helped by all this stress.
The media are often the self-sung heroes in situations such as this. Perpetuating panic with renewed reports and tales of woe. I saw a headline yesterday declaring ‘Swine fever sweeps the globe’. “Cripes,” I thought to myself “am I going to be next?” It turned out, on closer inspection, that swine fever is not in possession of a very good brush. Yes, it is important to inform the public of the news. Yes, I understand that there are different newspapers who all want to report the same story; yes I understand that people have different schedules and therefore the news needs to report the same headlines throughout the day, but let’s have some perspective please!! Today, just taking a quick glace at the headlines: A nine year old boy shot a gun into a school in Norway; Israeli PM Netanyahu is set to agree to a Palestinian statehood; a New York sized ice-self has collapsed off Antarctia; The UK governent are continuting with plans for a ‘Big-Brother’ database and are going to leave our private phone calls and web-site traffic in the hands of a corporation, although some Labour rebels are calling for the ID cards to be shelved for a while – not to mention the Naturists of Britain losing their fight for the right to bear all on the beach… All of these stories are deserving of attention and yet they all have to take the back seat while the newspapers recyle the same ‘Q&A leading articles’ we saw in 2006 during Bird Flu-era. By latching onto a potential crisis such as this the panic becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. The media consistently abuse their responsibility to deliver us the truth and in times of ‘crisis’ we do not need scare-mongering.
There is a particular group of people who have been shaded from their current position in the bright glare of disdain over the last few days. No, not Al Qaeda – The UK Government. Currently public enemy number 1. Courtesy of the Dream-Team (Gordon Bown, Jacqui Smith, Harriet Harman, David Milliband and Damien McBride, among others) we have a f$%^&ed economy; we are the most watched and surveiled country in the world (by far) and are wasting billions on an ID card system that will neither curb illegal immigration or help stop ‘terrorism’; we have worsening gender animosity resulting from bad policies; we (as a country, not as individuals and not through any permission of the tax-payers) colluded in torture of ‘terrorists’; we have the most immature, imbecillic politicical advisors whose advisory service consists of spreading rumours that their opponents were seen frequenting a sexual health clinic. Not to mention they’re all in the dog house for abusing the self-regulated expenses system whereby MPs think it’s appropriate to charge the tax-payer for Antique fireplaces, adult moves and bathroom plugs while the hoi-polloi are losing their jobs in droves. And yet today they take the back seat while the UK squawks about a strain of influenza that has so far resulted in 2 suspected cases in Great Britain (Scotland to be exact). Yes, there is a certain group who definitely benefit from keeping the attention away from them for a short time. Let’s hope that the majority of us can turn our attention back to them when all this blows over (I’m sure there’s a Three Little Pigs joke in there somewhere…)
Who else benefits? How about GlaxoSmithKlein or Roche Holding AG? Suppliers of Tamiflu and Relenza – the drug of choice to combat Pig Flu. Not only are there increased sales of the two drugs, but Biota Holdings Ltd, which earns royalties on Relenza, share price jumped 82% in one day (27th April). How do you like them apples? A slightly more tenuous, tin-hatted benefit springs to mind as well. There are currently extreme violence ‘issues’ in Mexico centred around gangs with drugs and directed at anyone and everyone. Since the US and British Armies have been in Afghanistan, there have been increased exports of heroin and cocaine into The US from Mexico so the cull of this ‘trade line’ will surely benefit the drugs companies of the states? Improbable, but not impossible.
As I’ve been writing this there have been several new stories about the progress of this virus – updates from the WHO claiming this is the tipping point for the fever which is no longer containable and, yet, no more deaths have been reported. You can easily create a computer program to model the spread of the virus based on current infections and contact bases, none has surfaced thus far. Not one report has been of sensible, calm advice giving a statistical chance of catching the fever or mortality rates. Something doesn’t add up. Either this is a world-wide panic where we’re all going to die (also known as armageddon)… or it’s not.
If this was a complete catastrophe you’d think that perhaps all flights would have been cancelled to Mexico. Or perhaps there would be more deaths? More statistics? More Science? Any science? Except there doesn’t seem to be that much tangible information. Just hyperbole created and supported by beneficiaries with the sole-purpose of profiteering, distraction and scare-mongering.
Whether I’m wrong or not, time will tell, but if I’m not what will we learn from the situation and our continued reaction to news like this? Will we learn anything? Judging from the last couple of days that Pig Flew alright.