Suggestions that swine flu was a fake pandemic created for the benefit of drug companies have been rubbished by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The UN agency released a statement condemning the allegations ahead of a meeting in Strasbourg of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which is calling for an EU probe into the UN agency’s actions.
WHO said last year’s outbreak of a new strain of H1N1 influenza in North America had all the scientific characteristics of a pandemic, and insisted it was never improperly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, which benefited financially from huge orders for vaccines and anti-viral drugs.
WHO figures from January 17 show more than 209 countries and territories reported confirmed cases of swine flu and there were more than 14,000 deaths - fewer than would be expected to die each year from seasonal flu. But the agency said this figure is likely to exclude many unreported cases.
In a strongly worded statement, WHO said: “The world is going through a real pandemic. The description of it as a fake is wrong and irresponsible.”