Remember the H1N1 panic that erupted only last year that sent public health bodies into a frenzy as we collectively braced for worldwide catastrophe? Well, it turns out everything may have been a bit overstated, and that the credibility lost by health organizations could actually endanger lives.
The claim, made in a report authored by the Council of Europe, criticizes the World Health Organization and other health bodies for overstating the dangers of the H1N1 strain of influenza, arguing the groups have “gambled away” public confidence and that the loss of credibility could endanger lives. —JCL
The World Health Organisation and other public health bodies have “gambled away” public confidence by overstating the dangers of the flu pandemic, according to a draft report to the Council of Europe.
The report, by the Labour MP Paul Flynn, vice chair of the council’s health committee, says that a loss of credibility could endanger lives.
“This decline in confidence could be risky in the future,” says the report, seen by the Guardian. “When the next pandemic arises many persons may not give full credibility to recommendations put forward by WHO and other bodies. They may refuse to be vaccinated and may put their own health and lives at risk.”
In Britain, says Flynn, the discrepancy between the estimate of the numbers of people who would die from flu and the reality was dramatic. “In the United Kingdom, the Department of Health initially announced that around 65,000 deaths were to be expected. In the meantime, by the start of 2010, this estimate was downgraded to only 1,000 fatalities. By January 2010, fewer than 5,000 persons had been registered as having caught the disease and about 360 deaths had been noted,” says his report.