The Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009 – Groundhog Day


A lot of water has flowed under the bridge since the 2009/10 Swine Flu Pandemic occurred but a decade on we find ourselves undergoing another “Pandemic” so now might be a good time to refresh our memories as to how the previous event played out – have lessons been learned?

It would appear that Professor Neil Ferguson and his wonderful modelling were involved  (again) he predicted that the “Swine Flu Pandemic” could kill 65,000 people in the UK.


The final number that lost their lives was 457.  

Der Spiegel – (a reputable German Publication )- reported extensively on the events surrounding the pandemic – link attached for the full story. 

Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria – The Swine Flu Pandemic of 2009

Swine flu kept the world in suspense for almost a year. A massive vaccination campaign was mounted to put a stop to the anticipated Pandemic.  But, as it turned out, it was a relatively harmless strain of the flu virus. 

So how, and why, did the world overreact? 

Boy Zero

In Mexico a 5 year old boy called Edgar had a high fever, he had lost his appetite, his throat was burning and his entire body ached at first things didn’t look good for Edgar, but after 4 days he recovered.  His illness disappeared as quickly as it had started.  It turned out to be nothing more than the flu.

It wasn’t until several weeks later that a lab in Canada tested a mucosal smear taken from Edgar.  He had been infected with a new pathogen, later to be named the Swine Flu Virus.  Edgar went down in history as Boy Zero the first person to fall ill with the new “Plague”.

Edgar’s infection was mild as were most of the millions of cases worldwide. This would have gone largely unnoticed but because of high-tech medicine and the vaccine industry the world did notice.

More than 130 laboratories in 102 countries are constantly on the lookout for new flu pathogens.  Entire careers and institutions, and a lot of money, depend on the outcomes of their work.  “Sometimes you get the feeling that there is whole industry almost waiting for a pandemic to occur”, said flu expert Tom Jefferson . 

April 24 2009:  WHO Headquarters in Geneva

Shortly after midnight Keiji Fukuda, an influenza specialist with the WHO received a call from the Chief of the Influenza Division at the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. They had worked together to fight the Asian bird flu.  A third of those infected died and Fukuda retained the fear that a similar pathogen could make the jump to humans.  It was this panic that would be the start of a devastating pandemic, one in which the WHO estimated, between 2m and 7.4 million could die – assuming that it was relatively mild – if it became aggressive it could be on par with the Spanish Flu in 1918 where the death toll ran into tens of millions.  (Sound familiar)?

Worst Case Scenarios

The WHO immediately set up a Strategic Health Operations Centre known as the SHOC room!  For the next few months this became a 24/7 hub with video conferencing equipment to communicate worldwide with doctors, scientists, politicians and industry representatives.  A tent was also set up in the grounds for the media. 

A group of 15 “carefully selected” experts from around the world were convened for an Emergency Committee in the early phase, John Mackenzie, the chairman stated – “There was very little information – but everything they knew at the time sounded alarming”. 

It would appear that a mild pandemic was not even considered, the WHO made it clear that it preferred to base decisions on a worse case scenario – to overestimate rather than underestimate the situation.

The media also did its part in stoking fear.

The pharmaceutical industry was particularly adept at keeping this vision alive. 

Manufacturers of flu remedies and vaccines even funded a group of scientists devoted solely to this issue. The lobbying group was headed up by Albert Osterhaus of the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam who also happened to be one of the WHO’s most influential advisers on flu vaccines. 

The then president of the Paul Ehrlich Institute (PEI) stated “we expected a real pandemic and we thought that it had to happen.  There was no one who suggested re-thinking our approach.” 

April 27, 2009:  The WHO raises its pandemic warning to phase 4, meaning it has discovered human-to-human transmission of the virus in at least 1 country. 

April 28, 2009:  The first 7 suspected cases of swine flu reported in Germany.

April 29, 2009:  The WHO raises its warning to phase 5, the last stage before a pandemic.

Researchers are elated “A pandemic – for virologists like us, it’s like a solar eclipse in one’s own country for astronomers” stated the director of the BSL-4 high security lab in Germany. (We are witnessing this excitement again in 2020).

April 30, 2009:  Egypt began killing all domestic pigs.  

May 4, 2009:  In Mexico, football matches in the country’s 4 highest ranking leagues takes place without spectators.  The legislature in Germany’s western state of Saarland imposes a ban on kissing as a form of greeting.

June 10, 2009:  The WHO received reports of 141 swine flu deaths.  The majority of the victims have serious pre-existing conditions. 

June 11, 2009 – WHO Headquarters – Emergency Committee convenes to discuss the WHO raising its warning to Phase 6. The 15 experts debated for hours.  

The WHO told the press that the virus was unpredictable and unstoppable.  It was official: An influenza pandemic had broken out for the first time in 41 years.

Phase 6 becomes effective when a new virus is spreading uncontrollably in several regions in the world.  The regulations say nothing about the severity of the disease.

The vast majority of experts on epidemics automatically associate the term “Pandemic” with truly aggressive viruses.  

On the WHO website, the answer to the question “What is a Pandemic”?  included mention of an enormous number of deaths and cases of the disease”.  Until May 4th 2009 when a CNN reporter pointed out the discrepancy between this description and the generally mild course of the swine flu.  THE LANGUAGE WAS PROMPTLY REMOVED

Fine-Tuning the Definition of Pandemic

When the Director General of the WHO (Margaret Chan) reached her decision, dozens of countries, including Great Britain, China and Japan had warned against prematurely raising the warning phase to 6.  Hong Kong’s health minister had said.  “The system of pandemic levels needs to be revised.”

We need to fine-tune phase 6 so that the severity of the disease is taken into account”.  In May 2009, even the WHO considered amending the criteria as had been suggested, but then changed its mind.  The warnings faded away.  Why? 

One thing is clear though.  A party with strong connections in Geneva had a strong interest in phase 6 being declared as quickly as possible: the pharmaceutical industry.

In mid-May, about 3 weeks before the Swine Flu was declared a pandemic, 30 senior representatives of pharmaceutical companies met with the WHO and the UN’s Secretary-General at WHO headquarters. 

Everything hung on this decision.  At stake was nothing less than a move to supply large segments of the world’s population with the flu vaccine.  Phase 6 was the switch that would allow bells on the industry’s cash registers to ring, risk-free.  That’s because many pandemic vaccine contracts had already been signed.  

Germany had signed an agreement with GlaxoSmithKline to buy its Pandemrix vaccine – as soon as phase 6 was declared.  This agreement could explain why Professor Roy Anderson one key scientific advisor to the British Government, declared the swine flu a pandemic on May 1, however he neglected to say that GSK was paying him an annual salary of more than €130,000.

July 4 2009: Rupert Grint the actor who portrays character Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films contracts swine flu – “At first I thought I was going to die” says the actor “but then I just got a sore throat”.

July 14 2009:  In Germany, 727 people are officially infected, but no deaths have been reported. 

August 2009: The Australian flu season has ended.  In the absence of a vaccine, only 190 people have died.

August 29 2009: A SPEIGEL survey shows that only 13% of Germans want to be vaccinated. 

Sept 7 2009:  A debate had erupted over whether Germany had chosen the wrong vaccine, Pandemrix.  It contained a new type of agent designed to boost its effectiveness, known as an adjuvant, which had never undergone large-scale human trials in connection with the Swine Flu antigen.  

Were millions of people about to receive a vaccine that had hardly been tested.  This is a large-scale experiment on the German people” warned Wolfgang Becker-Brüser, publisher of the  medical journal Arznei-Telegramm.

But the media continued stoking fears of the virus.  The German tabloid news paper Bild, in particular was printing new tales of horror almost daily.  Whilst on the other hand, the pharmaceutical companies were upping the pressure and constantly setting new ultimatums. 

November 28, 2009:  The swine flu begins to subside in Germany.  Hardly anyone wants to be vaccinated. 

Dec 8 2009:  English road crews run out of grit to treat the country’s icy roads.  Paul Flynn, a Labour MP in Parliament proposed using the government’s vast stock of unused Tamiflu pills instead. A study by the Cochrane Collaboration has shown that the flu medication was relatively ineffective. 

Jan 7, 2010: RKI President Hacker, warning of a new wave of the flu says “The vaccine is still needed because the virus is still here”

Jan 26, 2010:  Wolfgang Wodarg, a member of the German Parliament tells the European Council in Strasbourg that “millions of people worldwide were vaccinated for no good reason”.  According to Wodarg, the WHO’s classification of the Swine Flu as a Pandemic have earned the pharmaceutical companies $28 billion in additional revenues.  Annual sales of Tamiflu alone jumped 435%, to €2.2 billion.

Early March 2010, WHO Headquarters

The SHOC rooms is being used for other emergencies, but often the room lies empty. 

The mood at the WHO is less tense, the press office no longer staffed around the clock.  The tent set up for journalists in the parking lot is gone. Fukuda the influenza expert is happy to spend time on his hobby – playing cello – once again. 

What was this pandemic? Was it all just “good practice for an emergency”, as WHO adviser and industry lobbying Osterhaus puts it? Did the authorities do everything right?  

Certainly not.  No one at the WHO, RKI or PEI should feel proud of themselves.  When the next pandemic arrives who will believe their assessments? 


So we see the same playbook – the same panic emanating from the same bodies leading to the same actions.  Except this time things are much much worse – this time the economy has been artificially shut down affecting people’s livelihoods,  destroying their mental and physical health and well being. Lockdown policy will turn out to be worse than the virus. 

So have lessons been learned, no?

Pandemics are the switch that allow bells on the industry’s cash registers to ring.

To the statement “when the next pandemic arrives who will believe their assessments”?

  • Those with vested interests;
  • Those who hold the levers of power;
  • Mainstream media;
  • Those with short memories;
  • A population terrified by mainstream media.

Welcome to Groundhog day 2020!






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