Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Influenza A Platform That Wasn't

by Dr. Teresa Forcades (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Un Manament Nou
1/31/2010

On October 14th, I published and entry in this blog titled "Update on Influenza A" that ended with the proposal to create a public platform; at the end of the entry of November 5th ("Giving birth to the Light"), I announced that the colleagues from Justice and Peace had agreed to coordinate it.

Today I write this entry to let you know that unfortunately, the platform has not gone forward. Thank you to everyone who wrote showing interest in the initiative and also willingness to support it.

As you probably know, because the major media have been covering it extensively these days, what has moved forward is the motion of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe promoted by German politician and epidemiologist Wolfgang Wodarg. I have attached the original document so you can see how he phrased the question. You can also access his website www.wodarg.de which is in German, but includes sections in English, French and Spanish.

For those interested in learning about the response that the debate on influenza A and the vaccines has evoked in professional medical circles, I recommend the discussion forum section of the journal Annals de Medicina ("Annals of Medicine" -- the issue to be published in February 2010) where different doctors (including myself) deal with the issue. The section is titled: "Vacunes: com destriar la ciència de la política i dels interessos" ("Vaccines: how to distinguish science from politics and special interests").

I have also attached the short text I wrote on the subject of influenza for the digital journal Diàleg ("Dialogue") edited by Joseph Terricabras (the text was published on the website http://www.terricabras-filosofia.cat/cat/dialeg.asp on January 1st) [Translator's Note: Back issues of this journal are only available to registered users but it's also worth checking out the current issue of the journal which is about the role of laity in the Church]:

INFLUENZA A AND TRUST

To appeal for trust on issues that are empirically demonstrable is inappropriate, and if the one who appeals for trust is in a position of power, the appeal is suspicious in addition to inapppropriate: why are the arguments of authority and trust being invoked instead of giving facts that are convincing in and of themselves?

That is the question that many people have asked in our country and all countries which have attempted to carry out mass vaccination campaigns to tackle the 2009 influenza A .

The government answer to criticisms and questions about the vaccination policy has been unsatisfactory. Trust the experts, they tell us. And they don't explain to us that these experts have ties with commmercial enterprises for the products they are recommending. The case of Dr. Osterhaus has been so blatant that it even appeared in a note in the journal Science.

It's normal - they say - that the agency responsible for sanctioning the sale of a drug or vaccine at the European level (EMEA) is more than 50% funded by the commercial enterprises themselves, and it is normal that they are also the groups of experts who advise the WHO and are even in the WHO itself. One must trust that these companies will not misuse their influence.

Trust is appealed to, instead of appealing as John F. Kennedy did in his famous speech to the critical judgement of the citizenry and the need for eternal vigilance over its legitimate interests.

Fiona Godlee, editor of the British Medical Journal, in the December 10, 2009 issue, criticizes the lack of transparency in how the studies have been carried out on the efficacy of the antiviral Tamiflu and states that "it is a legitimate scientific concern that data used to support important health policy strategies are held only by a commercial organisation and have not been subject to full external scrutiny and review."

Trust, they tell us. And that, thanks be to God, is what most people have done: trust themselves and their own critical thinking.

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