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The 2009 Swine Flu (N1H1) Pandemic was at the time deemed as a serious threat to the global community. Having started in Mexico City, N1H1 quickly spread around the world and lasted some 20 months.
Prediction models from teams of epidemiologists from around the world suggested utter devastation.
Pieces of analysis from the now-resigned Professor Neil Ferguson at the time suggested “about one-third of the world’s population,” would become affected, with 65,000 deaths in the UK alone.
Such predictions forced the WHO to ramp up their efforts of protecting the public and subsequent issue of a level 6 pandemic.
In the years following the pandemic, investigations, inquiries, and general scepticism met WHO and its handling of N1H1.
Dr Wolfgang Wodarg, a German doctor and former member of parliament, had been watching the spread of swine flu in Mexico City – where the virus was first recorded – and was puzzled at the reaction of WHO.
In 2010, he said: “What we experienced in Mexico City was a very mild flu which did not kill more than usual – which killed even fewer people than usual.
“This was suddenly, a fast-spreading mild flu, a pandemic.
“But this is not the definition of a pandemic I learned, which has to be severe, with a much higher than usual death rate.”
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Dr Wodarg eventually launched an inquiry into the Swine Flu pandemic and WHO’s dealings with the pharmaceutical industry in the lead up to the N1H1 pandemic.
At a council meeting, Dr Wodarg declared that “all the business deals that had been prepared between individual countries and the pharmaceutical companies were about to be triggered by the WHO”.
He added: “The relevant contracts were mostly confidential and the companies insist they should never be published.”
Lillian Franck, an independent filmmaker followed the narrative that played out during the pandemic in her 2018 documentary “TrustWHO”.
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As well as speaking to Dr Wodarg, Ms Franck interviewed German Velasquez, a former WHO Director in the Public Health Department, who served during the Swine Flu pandemic.
He controversially suggested that those working at the WHO at the time had no fears over N1H1.
He explained: “Nobody there was afraid.
“I didn’t know anyone at the WHO who had himself vaccinated.
“Including the Director General, who told journalists in response to their questions that she hadn’t had time but would get herself vaccinated later.”
Ms Franck also discovered that the WHO changed its criteria for a level 6 pandemic, deleting “severity of illness” from the requirement of a pandemic phase.
This made it easier to declare a level 6 pandemic.
When Ms Franck asked Mr Velasquez about the definition change, he said: “It was publicised around the world, that the criteria for declaring a pandemic were changed and at the same time the old guidelines vanished from the WHO website.”
Ms Franck asked: “Could they have declared the pandemic level 6 also with the old definition?”
Mr Velasquez: “No, because the severity, the number of deaths, would have been a factor.
“Since that was no longer one of the criteria, it made it easier to declare a pandemic.”
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