The head of health at the Council of Europe, accused the makers
of flu drugs and vaccines of influencing the World Health Organization's
decision to declare a pandemic.
This led to the pharmaceutical firms ensuring 'enormous gains',
while countries, including the UK, 'squandered' their meagre health
budgets, with millions being vaccinated against a relatively mild
A resolution proposed by Dr Wodarg calling for an investigation
into the role of drug firms has been passed by the Council of
Europe, the Strasbourg-based 'senate' responsible for the European
Court of Human Rights.
An emergency debate on the issue will be held later this month.
Dr Wodarg's claims come as it emerged the British government
is desperately trying to offload up to £1billion of swine
flu vaccine, ordered at the height of the scare.
The Department of Health warned of 65,000 deaths, set up a special
advice line and website, suspended normal rules so anti-flu drugs
could be given out without prescription and told health and local
authorities to prepare for a major pandemic.
Planners were told to get morgues ready for the sheer scale of
deaths and there were warnings that the Army could be called in
to prevent riots as people fought to obtain drugs.
But with fewer than 5,000 in England catching the disease last
week and just 251 deaths overall, Dr Wodarg has branded the H1N1
outbreak as 'one of the greatest medical scandals of the century'.
He said: 'We have had a mild flu - and a false pandemic.'
He added the seeds of the scare were sown five years ago, when
it was feared the much more lethal bird flu virus would mutate
into a human form.
The 'atmosphere of panic' led to governments stockpiling the
anti-flu drug Tamiflu and putting in place 'sleeping contracts'
for millions of doses of vaccine
Dr Wodarg said: 'The governments have sealed contracts with vaccine
producers where they secure orders in advance and take upon themselves
almost all the responsibility.
'In this way the producers of vaccines are sure of enormous gains
without having any financial risks.
'So they just wait, until WHO says "pandemic" and activate
He also claims that to further push their interests, leading
drug companies placed 'their people' in the 'cogs' of the WHO
and other influential organisations.
He added that their influence could have led the WHO to soften
its definition of a pandemic - leading to the declaration of a
worldwide outbreak last June.
Dr Wodarg said: 'In order to promote their patented drugs and
vaccines against flu, pharmaceutical companies have influenced
scientists and official agencies, responsible for public health
standards, to alarm governments worldwide.
'They have made them squander tight healthcare resources for
inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly exposed millions
of healthy people to the risk of unknown side-effects of insufficiently
He does not name any Britons with conflicts of interest.
But last year, the Daily Mail revealed that Sir Roy Anderson,
a scientist who advises the Government on swine flu, also holds
a £116,000-a-year post on the board of GlaxoSmithKline.
GSK makes anti-flu drugs and vaccines and is predicted to be
one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic.
The Department of Health says that although the disease appears
to be on the wane, it cannot rule out a third surge and urges
all those entitled to the jab to have it.
Professor David Salisbury, the Government's head of immunisation
said there were 'no grounds whatsoever' for Dr Wodarg's claims,
saying people with conflicts of interest were kept out of the
A GSK spokesman said: 'Allegations of undue influence are misguided
and unfounded. The WHO declared that H1N1 swine flu met the criteria
for a pandemic.
'As WHO have stated, legal regulations and numerous safeguards
are in place to manage possible conflicts of interest.'
The company, which still employs Sir Roy, said he had declared
his commercial interests and had not attended any meetings related
to the purchase of drugs or vaccine for either the Government
Editor's note: There are still very
real and impending dangers on upgraded and recombined viruses
that may still present a "real" threat to our health.
We urge readers to not let your guard down just yet.