Taking time out from reading the Daily Star 'Horoscope Special' which tells me that Gordon Brown has had a rough time last year because of Mars rather than because he's an incompetent moron with as much of a grasp on economics as the plastic bag I'm currently using as a bin, I see that the BMJ has published a letter from a layman on the swine flu research the other day.
I make no claims to be experienced in understanding clinical trials, nor even to have a medical background: I am by training an engineer. However, it was clear as long ago as June that the use of oseltamivir in combating the current 'pandemic' A/H1N1 strain was neither straightforward, nor without an element of risk.
Under the auspices of Godfrey Bloom MEP (Yorkshire & North Lincolnshire) I undertook an analysis of existing publicly available information relating to oseltamivir treatments and arrived at conclusions which, to a layman such as myself, do not differ greatly from those in this report.
Several questions arose from this research which deserved an answer much earlier in the debate. These included:
whether the widespread use of oseltamivir would result in increased resistance as appeared to be suggested by de Jong, Thanh and others (New England Medical Journal, 12/2005) and Dharan, Gubereva, Meyer et al (Journal of the American Medical Association)
Whether oseltamivir was more dangerous than the A/H1N1 it was supposed to treat/prevent, as suggested by the US FDA (Pediatric ADRs to Tamiflu, 2007), Maxwell's Tamiflu and neuropsychiatric problems in adolescents (BMJ) and the work of Rokura Hama.
Whether the rush to use oseltamivir to treat A/H1N1 was related to the imminent expiry of stockpiles purchased in 2005 in the previous 'bird flu' scare which would have lead to the destruction of pharmaceuticals worth £500m in the UK alone.
As someone involved in advising policy on these matters, I was mystified as to why the scientific community could not address these issues at the time and, worse, actively sought to deflect dissent to the prevailing view which appeared to amount to 'unless we all take oseltamivir we'll die of H1N1'. I am perfectly happy to accept that my understanding of medicine may well be at fault in my interpretation of at least some of the studies I quote, but there has always been a significant body of opinion which has questioned both the seriousness of the supposed A/H1N1 pandemic, and the efficacy of oseltamivir as either a treatment or a prophylaxis. For any who are interested, my own analysis was published at www.swineswindle.blogspot.com . My apologies for the title, but I am a journalist and not a medical professional.
Head of Media
Europe of Freedom & Democracy Group, European Parliament, Brussels
Before Christmas we had Liam Donaldson berating the middle classes for
Back to the topic: it does appear that most things which Liam Donaldson says are in some way flawed. I'm not a particularly avid follower of all things medical but from my political interests over the last few years suggests that our Liam is the barometer in what's not going to happen.
I could be wrong: the insistence of the Labour Party that we all take something which only relieves symptoms because H1N1 is a virus when they'd a massive stock pile of the stuff could be the right thing to do. However I do notice that most of the people who were supposed to have died of swine flu were found to have other problems and it also appears to have vanished from the continual rolling media.