The swine flu vaccine was distributed worldwide as we all have known after hearing the new headlines of the upcoming pandemic. Like Versaci, Armani, and Paco Raban, the Avian Flu (H5N1), SARS, and H1N1 are seasonal scandals that have flared and dimmed. Nevertheless, there may also be a possibility of the virus still spreading and claiming more lives worldwide, right? According to the United Nations the total world count for 2009 was a total of 5,000 lives. On the other hand, the BBC claims that number to be of 12,700 victims. If this value is compared to the estimated worldwide population of 6 billion, one could see that the investments, prevention, propaganda and attention given to the virus was slightly out of proportion when considering that 36 million people die worldwide of hunger, a preventable cause of death. It is hard to know if the HIN1 virus did actually pose a threat as a pandemic, the WHO does seem to argue that the virus did pose such threat due to its rapid spread to 74 countries in only a 6-week time span. Looking at such information shows that the UN has taken proper administrative procedures to contain the virus; a vaccine was quickly produced and sold to governments who feared a spread of the pandemic, but were these measures overestimated?
It is hard to say what would have occurred if this so-called pandemic was not taken precaution. But what is known is that there are several administrations that are now left with millions of vaccines. England’s NHS has found itself with 34 million doses of the antidote for the H1N1 virus. According to the BBC, the NHS has made a deal with Baxter and GlaxoSmithKline to purchase 120 million doses of the vaccine but only 44 million were purchased due to the decline of cases after December. For those who are not acquainted with these giants, GlaxoSmithKline is a British pharmaceutical company, one of Pfizer’s competitors and Baxter is an American health care company. Out of this 44 million, 6 has been already used for immunization and 3.8 has been shipped to Africa. This has cost the British government between 110 and 150 million pounds. This undoubtedly is a large sum of tax money, which has not shown to bring substantial benefits for the British population. Instead, such money is aiding Africa with H1N1 immunization that is unnecessary according to the WHO week 11 update.
The update presents a map of the world that displays the spread of the virus and the number of those affected. Many countries in African either do not show to have any infectious activity or information available on the virus. Therefore, why is Great Britain sending their vaccines to countries that are not in need of it? The vaccines that were not used should have been sent to countries that at least have had regional outbreaks, such as India, Afghanistan, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.
It is hard to condemn the UN for the precautionary procedures taken to control the pandemic. What is undeniably possible to conclude is that pharmaceuticals did benefit from the pandemic scare and that governments quickly jumped to purchase the antidote for the virus and have overestimated its potency, resulting to sending vaccines to locations that do not need it. Such result makes one question on whether or not the pandemic scare was overestimated by the UN and that the propaganda has created an inaccurate setting. Before immunizing government health programs should analyze how the pandemic poses an effect, on the possibilities of infection before generating massive programs and waste a country’s funds.
Alice J. Abou Nader