DailyMail Drug companies manipulated the World Health Organisation into downgrading its definition of a pandemic so they could cash in on a swine flu outbreak, it is claimed.
An inquiry heard yesterday that the WHO allegedly softened its criteria for declaring a H1N1 flu pandemic last spring – just weeks before announcing there was a worldwide outbreak.
Critics said the decision was driven by pharmaceutical companies desperate to recoup the billions of pounds they had invested in researching and developing pandemic vaccines after the bird flu scares in 2006 and 2007.
As a result, millions of people have been vaccinated against a mild illness, and money that could have been used to prevent and treat major killers such as heart disease has been squandered.
The claims, which emerged during the first of several Council of Europe hearings into the handling of the swine flu pandemic, were strongly rejected by the WHO.
Following the organisation’s declaration of a pandemic, the Department of Health warned of 65,000 deaths, set up a special advice line and website, and suspended normal rules so anti-flu drugs could be given without prescription.
But with just 250 or so deaths in Britain and 14,000 worldwide, the WHO is being asked to account for its actions.