Friday, May 08, 2009

Cry wolf

Many people,when I suggested that the MSM had contributed to the Swine flu hysteria and that there was no reason to be afraid, replied: “but the WHO raised the pandemic alert rating to 5!”. It seems that the WHO has realized that, following blindly their alert criteria only fed panic material to the media:

The World Health Organisation is considering an overhaul of its pandemic ratings system amid growing criticism that it provoked unnecessary alarm by rapidly escalating its warnings over swine flu
…Media organisations initially seized on the raising of the alerts in front page headlines around the world, but as it has emerged that the death toll has stayed relatively low, so the criticism has mounted. As of Thursday morning the WHO had confirmed 2,099 cases in 23 countries, including 44 deaths….

Unfortunately this comes at a critical moment and could give ammunition to either sides of the aisle, preventing an objective decision to be taken:

The Obama administration is weeks away from a critical decision on whether to trigger mass production of swine-flu vaccine, which could affect the bottom lines of big vaccine makers as well as public health.
Besides determining whether a vaccine would be effective and safe, government officials and private laboratories will need to answer practical and financial questions: Does it make sense to order hundreds of millions of doses and organize a mass vaccination campaign for a virus that, so far, isn't widespread and doesn't seem particularly lethal?

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