My goodness there has certainly been a lot of hype about bird flu hasn’t there? I wonder how long it will take for people to see through the lies. Quite some time I expect, and then most people never will.

Is there a risk from so-called bird flu? Is it likely that a virus will jump the species barrier to humans? Could such a virus be capable of killing 76% of people exposed to it? Is it likely that this virus will kill at least 50 million people worldwide? Does the government ever deliberately lie to people for political purposes?

Now, where would you like to start? Is there a risk from this "bird-flu" that so captivates the world’s media? Yes. And this answers the second question too, since there would be no risk to humans unless the species leap could indeed happen. Some reports indicate that it already has.

Could it be capable of killing 76% of cases? Well, maybe, but why not 96% or 33% or … well, pick a number. The suggestions of likely mortality rates are part worst case possibility from computer modelling (having been programmed by people remember), part beat up by the media, part deliberate misinformation campaign by people with vested interest in frightening as many people as possible. In reality, it is a ridiculous number and one you can safely dismiss.

Much the same can be said for the predicted 50 million deaths worldwide. Simply ridiculous. This is part of a loosley, but reasonably effectively, orchestrated plan of scaremongering.

How easily people can be frightened into believing whatever an authority figure wants. When the media reports "scientists" claims or those of some "government official" it suddenly becomes gospel.

What do frightened people do? Well, strangely enough, pretty predictable things actually. For example, no matter how much they want safer roads, more teachers and smaller class sizes, reduced taxes and a host of other things, they will happily understand and think positively about a government that diverts funds instead into the pharmaceutical companies coffers, to develop vaccines.

So who are the big winners? Politicians who look like saviours, drug company executives and other stock holders, that’s who. The media are like putty in the manipulative hands of such people and since both political parties and drug companies spend a lot of money on advertising with the media, it’s a pretty comfortable arrangement and not one where the media will become too critical or investigative.

It is always easy to find a few academics and career scientists to "find", "discover" or otherwise generally support something that gets the fear ball rolling. Frankly, they are a dime a dozen.

And if really pressed for absolute proof, well, maybe it sounds like a conspiracy story from Hollywood, but the government can always arrange for an outbreak of something lethal to establish its credibility. If you think that’s a bit far fetched, then how come you fall for all the twaddle about this predicted pandemic? Perhaps your critical skills need some tweaking.

There is little doubt that a pandemic is possible, after all, they have happened before. There is some sense to the reasoning that "we are due" for such an event, but do remember that it is in the realm of "best guess" and probability modelling. So is buying a lottery ticket.

The prudent things to do all relate to improving the soundness of your general health. Take a quick read through my current series on the dimensions of health if you need pointers for where to start. For example, look at the determinants of physical health in Part 5.

Also go easy on your immune system. You’re going to need it to be at top performance if and when the flu (any flu) comes along, so give it a boost. One thing that will actually harm your immune function is becoming unduly distressed by the hype surrounding the predictions of world doom in the wake of bird flu. Recognize it as hype and take sensible personal and family health measures to improve your resistence and help ensure a speedy recovery if infected.

It can be very difficult to combat the understandable worry when faced with regular dire warnings from authority sources. Just use your own judgement, no matter what the source of information, and decide what is unsubstantiated hype, what is verified risk and what is the safest plan of action. Demand very convincing arguments before agreeing to a vaccination that may cause more harm than good.

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One Comment to “Bird Flu Hype”

  1. Health Gazette says:

    Sir David King, the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser, has said there is a “very low” chance of the virus mutating to a form that spreads between humans.

    The H5N1 virus cannot pass easily from one person to another and therefore currently does not pose a large-scale threat to humans.

    Sir David King has said suggestions of an inevitable global human pandemic were “totally misleading” and says the virus has been in the bird population since 1996, and in Asia in particular there has been a lot of contact between human beings and the birds that have the virus.

    King says despite that, a human virus has not developed.

    Finally, without hype or fanfare, a U.K. health spokesman has said “the disease remains one of birds, not humans.” We are well into April 2006 now so the Human “Bird Flu” Pandemic profiteers have already made their killing.

    One wonders whether Sir David lacked courage to speak out earlier, lacked the media space amidst the hyped-up ‘promotion’ or perhaps is politically wise enough to know when to hold his tongue while powerful people make money. Who knows? In any event, I welcome his current comments but am disappointed they were so late in coming.

    Dr Peter Tylee

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