The fact that Tamiflu doesn't really work is just another chapter in the swine flu farce, but the real point is that it should never have been stockpiled in the first place, whether efficacious or not. It's easy to be wise with hindsight, but it was clear very early on that swine flu was not particularly contagious and was very unlikely to be lethal. This could be concluded within days of it emerging in Mexico City - one of the world's most crowded cities - and it was crystal clear by the time the flu season descended on the Southern Hemisphere.
It's difficult now to recall quite how hysterical the government, advised by Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson, became in 2008-09. As I wrote in 2010...
Donaldson described swine flu as the "biggest challenge [to the NHS] in a generation" and predicted that a third of the UK population would come down with the virus in the winter. In an act of near-insanity, the British government ordered 110 million doses of the swine flu vaccine Tamiflu, the Department of Health ordered 32 million face masks and the Home Office made plans to dig mass graves.
In the event—despite the coldest winter for 30 years—there were fewer deaths than in the average flu season. The final death toll was 450—0.7% of the 65,000 predicted in Donaldson's worst-case scenario. Of these 450 deaths, only 70 could be solely attributed to swine flu.
Like all disciples of the precautionary principle, Donaldson could attribute the low death toll to his own policies. But there were even fewer deaths in Poland, whose government did not buy a single dose of Tamiflu.
In truth, it was obvious within a week of the initial outbreak that swine flu was not going to be a major killer. If it was going to slay millions, it would have done so in crowded and poverty-stricken Mexico City, where the scare began. Clearly, this was a fairly contagious but not very potent disease. Swine flu single-handedly brought the phrase "chronic underlying health problems" into the popular lexicon, as they seemed to be a prerequisite for any swine flu-related death. The chance of dying from the disease once you contracted it was 0.0001%.
As Paul Flynn - with whom I disagree about nearly everything, but who has followed this story doggedly and admirably - notes...
The Swedish Institute for Communicable Disease Control found that 5.4 million swine flu jabs saved 6 lives in Sweden.
60% of the Swedish population was vaccinated in 2009.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) found Sweden had a death rate of 0.31 fatalities per 100,000 people after the pandemic.
In Germany, where only eight percent of the population was vaccinated, the fatality figures were the same.
In Poland, the death rate was only 0.47 per 100,000. They spent next to nothing on vaccines. UK spent £1.2 billion. Our equivalent death rate was double, 0.74.
There are questions that need answering, not only about how Tamiflu was presented as being more efficacious than it is but about how the swine flu scare was harnessed to sell it in vast quantities to gullible governments. Big Pharma and the WHO are both culpable. The latter changed the definition of a pandemic in May 2009 in a way that was very convenient for manufacturers of Tamiflu and the whole organisation is rife with people who have serious competing interests.
Donaldson himself has since got himself a job at the WHO as well as a job at a lobbying company that represents pharmaceutical companies. Perhaps, as Longrider says, "we, the taxpayers, should be knocking on Donaldson’s door demanding our money back?"