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Sweden evaluates swine flu response

Published: 17 Jan 2010 10:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 17 Jan 2010 10:11 GMT+01:00

With more than half the population inoculated, the swine flu scare is waning in Sweden. But questions remain whether the epidemic was grossly exaggerated.

“We’re definitely evaluating our initiatives, together with other countries,” said epidemiologist Annika Linde at the Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control (Smittskyddsinstitut). “But we’ve saved lives. That’s perfectly clear.”

She made her comments in the Swedish daily Expressen in response to charges that the World Health Organization (WHO) exaggerated the risks.

Sweden ordered 18 million doses of vaccine but has used only about 7 million when it became clear that a single inoculation, rather than two, would suffice.

Some 15 Swedes have died from swine flu since the announcement of the pandemic last summer.

“With hindsight it’s easy to be critical, and there’s no doubt that this influenza was milder than we had believed,” said Linde. WHO did not exaggerate the risks, she said, but instead adopted the principle of protective action.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has praised the Swedish campaign to combat the disease. The H1N1 virus has been called swine flu because many of the genes are similar to influenza viruses found in pigs. The epidemic was first detected last year, originally in Mexico and the United States.

Roger Choate (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:21 January 17, 2010 by digital
I admire the people behind the swine flu who made trillions overnight :)
11:51 January 17, 2010 by Gwrhyr
It was incredibly grossly exaggerated and I'm glad I wasn't inoculated, but you know what? I don't think there is any way to "win" in these types of situations. If Swine flu ended up being the next plague, wiping out a quarter of Sweden's population the evaluations and reactions would be that we didn't do enough.

Certainly the big money in the pharmaceutical industry plays this reality to their advantage. So it's really a complicated question. But we can say now that yes, this particular case turns out to have been exaggerated.
14:13 January 17, 2010 by Gletta
Have to agree with Gwhyr. And right now in the labs in some pharmaceutical company they are working on next year's donkey fly
15:20 January 17, 2010 by eggbrain
It was put to me that I might not be allowed to be present at the birth of my next child in February if I refused the injection. I always thought that swine flu was a load of crap but, they had me over a barrel. I still feel really annoyed about having my arm twisted in this way.
15:31 January 17, 2010 by CanadianEh
Been there done that got the t-shirt ....

The swine flue was a great way for pharmacutical companies to scare people into making record profits during an economic crises. But then again we are scared into alot of things.... Terrorism, Fluism, Islamism, blah blah blahism.... I made the last one up but lets see how the media will take it and create hysteria about it.

Here is a great piece of advice I was given during my university years by a political profressor I had my first year..."If the government is telling you to do something, question it because most likely then not they don't about they just want to use you for a greater plan."
00:06 January 18, 2010 by Twiceshy
Hindsight is always 20/20.

Bottom line, no one knew whether this virus would mutate into a very deadly strain like the 1918 flu did. The vaccine might not give perfect protection if that happened, but it could still reduce the viral load and help people fight off the infection.
03:17 January 18, 2010 by Davey-jo
When an itsy bitsy little flu bug bothers Western capitalist society all the stops are pulled to get a vaccine; cost no problem; just get it and fast. When a bug is killing millions of, let us say, slightly darker skinned individuals nobody is in any hurry at all. Swine flu may or may not have killed a few hundred; malaria has killed thousands at the same time and no-body really cares. If you needed an example of racism then this is it; brutal indifference to every day killer diseases.
03:37 January 18, 2010 by xenyasai
It is said that it is better to be safe than sorry. I prefer to be safe most of the time than sorry.

If most of you bothered to use Google to do some research and even consult, oh I don't know, proper scientists like immunologists and virologists about why the vaccine can be important you might remove your tin-foil hat from your head.

You are aware that one of the reasons we do not have problems with TB in W-Europe is just because of vaccines; just to mention on example.

You could also read in the Swedish newspapers that fewer people are suffering from the common cold this winter; just because people have become better at washing their hands after the swine-flu scare.

So, maybe also a combination of the vaccine and more cleanliness had some effect on the spreading of swine-flu.

Of course, it is easier to blame the big pharmaceuticals and the government by listening to people making assumptions about things they might not have any understanding about at all.

The irony here though is that we should be glad the swine-flu did not break-out as expected, but I guess some people are never happy no matter what. Also, the vaccine was free in Sweden, so it cost you nothing.

I got the vaccine in Oz, for free. I had just a bit of malaise for a few days; other than that, I did not walk backwards, I did not lose my ability to smell or taste food, I did not get paralysed and I did not die.
06:56 January 18, 2010 by izbz
Exaggerated? no I don't think so, Prevention is better than cure
09:39 January 18, 2010 by michcas
As a person that was ill with the swine flu, I feel it was not exaggerated at all. It was horrible and I have never been so sick in my entire life. Even though my Sambo only had it lightly, I was unlucky to get it much harder. To explain this flu is difficult because it was not like any other flu I have ever had. The chills that shot through my body were frightening. The fever was so high that I had some sort of chill shocks while I slept. My lungs hurt to breath and it was difficult. My body ached horribly and in the beginning it was very difficult to sleep at all. I would sleep when I could. Only one day of nausea. Coughing was a major task because it hurt so bad. The doctor said it was important to drink 2 liters of water each day, and it was. My saliva was like glue. The direahea lasted many days and was very painful. After a week, they said I was still contagious. I read about it and knew that the fever should have gone over after a few days. The first week was eternity, just waiting for the fever to break. It has now been since November and I can still feel it in my lungs, but gets better each day. Do I think they exaggerated, what do you think? I did not get the shot, it was not out yet. Would I have gotten it anyway, no. In the beginning I was against getting the vacinne. Now, my attitude is...why take the chance. I would not wish this flu on my worst enemy. To each their own but hope they are wrong when they think it could come back in the spring.
09:41 January 19, 2010 by askin
As the media says that the swine flu virus was constructed in a lab and the swine flu vaccin was patented six months prior to the first cases of swine flu appeared in the nature and then turned into a pandemic, the pharma industries which arranged this crime must be sued. Who is going to sue them? If noone, why not?
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