British Medical Journal: WHO must act now to restore its credibility, and Europe should legislate

Council of Europe condemns "unjustified scare" over swine flu
Adrian O'Dowd
The Council of Europe has heavily criticised the World Health Organization, national governments, and EU agencies for their handling of the swine flu pandemic. The parliamentary assembly of the council - the international organisation that protects human rights and the rule of law in Europe - published a draft of a report that reviewed how the H1N1 pandemic was handled. National governments, WHO, and EU agencies had all been guilty of actions that led to a "waste of large sums of public money, and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public," says the report. The conclusion came in the parliamentary assembly's social, health and family affairs committee report published on 4 June. The report was prepared by Paul Flynn, socialist member of the assembly and Labour MP for Newport West and approved by the committee ahead of a plenary debate at the end of this month... [Full text of this article]

Conflicts of interest and pandemic flu
Fiona Godlee, editor in chief
The world should of course be thankful that the 2009 influenza A/H1N1 pandemic proved such a damp squib. With so many fewer lives lost than had been predicted, it almost seems ungrateful to carp about the cost. But carp we must because the cost has been huge. Some countries - notably Poland - declined to join the panic buying of vaccines and antivirals triggered when the World Health Organization declared the pandemic a year ago this week. However, countries like France and the United Kingdom who have stockpiled drugs and vaccines are now busy unpicking vaccine contracts, selling unused vaccine to other countries, and sitting on huge piles of unused oseltamivir. Meanwhile drug companies have banked vast profits - $7bn (£4.8bn; €5.7bn) to $10bn from vaccines alone according to investment bank JP Morgan. Given the scale of public cost and private profit, it would seem important to know that WHO's key decisions were free from commercial... [Full text of this article]

WHO and the pandemic flu "conspiracies"
Deborah Cohen, features editor, BMJ, Philip Carter, journalist, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, London.
Key scientists advising the World Health Organization on planning for an influenza pandemic had done paid work for pharmaceutical firms that stood to gain from the guidance they were preparing. These conflicts of interest have never been publicly disclosed by WHO, and WHO has dismissed inquiries into its handling of the A/H1N1 pandemic as "conspiracy theories"... [Full text of this article]

The report, The handling of the H1N1 pandemic: more transparency needed, is at: http://assembly.coe.int/CommitteeDocs/2010/20100604_H1N1pandemic_e.pdf

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