The UK Government is seeking to rid itself of a billion pounds worth of unwanted swine flu vaccine -- because the “deadly” H1N1 epidemic never materialized. Major drug companies may have pushed the World Health Organization (WHO) to warn that swine flu could be a worldwide 'pandemic' killing tens of millions.
But even more shocking is the fact that the scandalous waste of public money, and the wild overreaction which gave rise to it, were both entirely predictable. It has long been clear that governments all over the world, led by the WHO, were in the grip of a hysterical panic over swine flu.
In the early days of the panic, the BBC Today program brought in a WHO 'expert' to predict that 40 percent of Britons would catch swine flu, while citing another unnamed 'expert' as predicting that up to 1.2 million could die.
Yet eight months later it was being reported by scientists that swine flue is only a tenth as virulent as ordinary flu, and only one 100th as virulent as that Spanish flu at the end of World War I.
In other words, swine flu -- just like the bird flu which a senior WHO official said in 2005 was going to kill 150 million people worldwide (the true death toll turned out to be barely 200) -- has predictably turned out to be yet another example of that all-too-familiar and very dangerous disease of our time, the 'scare phenomenon.'
These scares consistently follow an identifiable pattern.
They invariably begin with some misreading of the scientific evidence, which then gets picked up and inflated into some major threat to human health or well being. But the tipping point of any scare, the moment when it begins to create serious damage, is when politicians and governments get involved, buying the exaggerated threat wholesale and responding with a deluge of measures which end up costing billions.