World Health Organisation (WHO) figures and state leaders gathered both in person and digitally in Geneva this week to discuss the coronavirus pandemic. The review – the fifth special session of the WHO Executive Board – intended to follow up on COVID-19 information and policies that were advised during the health outfit’s 73rd assembly meeting in May earlier this year. There, WHO officials and state delegates discussed the logistics and practicalities of distributing vaccinations.
Member states were also briefed on the WHO’s COVID response to date and updates on challenges that the organisation has faced.
The allocation of a vaccine was discussed, of which Director General Tedros Adhanom said the WHO and partners had already devised an “allocation framework”.
It appears that the mandate is to vaccinate a portion of the population in all countries rather than all people in some countries.
Another major concern of the meeting was the US’ withdrawal from the WHO, which it says is a result of the health body’s lack of “transparency” and failure to be held “accountable”.
WHO: The organisation was accused of fabricating the Swine Flu pandemic in 2009
Tedros Adhanom: The former Ethiopian political is the WHO’s Director General
It is a point on which many agree with, and one that was felt most strongly in the years following the 2009 Swine Flu pandemic.
The WHO has consistently denied allegations that the N1H1 outbreak was “fake”.
Its chief accuser was Wolfgang Wodarg, a German physician and former member of the German Parliament for the Social Democratic Party and delegate to the European Council, who branded the pandemic as “fake” after suggesting big pharma coaxed the WHO into declaring a pandemic so that it could produce and sell a vaccine.
He appeared in an interview during the 2017 documentary ‘TrustWHO’ which explored potential corruption and opacity within the organisation.
WHO leaders: Margaret Chan was the WHO’s Director General during the Swine Flu outbreak
When asked about the WHO’s handling of the Swine Flu pandemic, Mr Wodarg said: “Glaxo, Novartis, Sanofi, they had all launched new production programs to produce the vaccine for this pandemic.
“They had all made agreements with nation states.
“And since they had invested so much in this but couldn’t sell the vaccine because there was no pandemic and no sign of a flu outbreak – they fabricated a pandemic.”
He was not alone in his concerns.
Within the WHO Collaborating Center for Epidemiology in Munster, Germany, Dr Ulrich Kiel said of the vast sums of money that went into the pandemic, “we are witnessing a gigantic misallocation of resources ( an estimated £14billion) in terms of public health”.
Early predictions of how Swine Flu would cripple the world raised alarm bells within the scientific community, enabling the WHO to increase preventative measures.
At the time, Imperial College London’s Professor Neil Ferguson and his team created a model in which 65,000 people in the UK were likely to die from N1H1.
This was a significant benchmark in the WHO’s decision to issue a pandemic.
‘Wake up!’ WHO criticises UK coronavirus strategy amid ‘alarming’ rise [REPORT]
China accused of hoarding PPE and face masks at height of coronavirus [INSIGHT]
China fires back at Donald Trump’s ‘groundless’ coronavirus attacks [ANALYSIS]
China latest: Margaret Chan pictured with China’s president Xi Jinping
WHO controversy: Many complained that the organisation had been ‘coaxed’ by big pharma in 2009
Yet, in the end, the UK death toll from Swine Flu stood at 457.
Mr Ferguson also appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme in 2009, and said: “It is likely to spread around the world in the next six to nine months, and when it does so, it will affect about one-third of the world’s population.
“To put that into context, normal seasonal flu probably affects around 10 percent of the world’s population every year, so we are heading for a flu season which is perhaps three times worse than usual – not allowing for whether this virus is more severe than normal seasonal flu viruses.”
In total, Swine Flu accounted for just over 18,000 deaths in the entire 20 month pandemic.
WHO funding: The US, the WHO’s biggest funder, pulled out of the health outfit earlier this year
Controversy also surrounded the WHO’s altering of their pandemic definition.
In the months leading up to the organisation’s declaration of the pandemic as a “level 6” contagion – the highest possible level – many countries including Italy, Germany, France and the UK made secret agreements with pharmaceutical companies.
These contracts obliged the countries to buy Swine Flu vaccinations only if the WHO raised the pandemic to a level 6.
Previously having described the pandemic as “moderate” the WHO later deleted “severity of illness” as a requirement to enforce a level 6 alert.
Coronavirus: The WHO’s next objective is the allocation of a global vaccine
German Velasquez, a former WHO Director in the Public Health Department, who served during the Swine Flu pandemic also appeared in TrustWHO and explained: “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.
“They could not have declared a pandemic level 6 with the old definition 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.”
The WHO’s chief flu scientist, Keiji Fukuda, at the time said the idea that the N1H1 outbreak was not a pandemic is “scientifically wrong and historically inaccurate”.