Other "Pandemics" - SARS
Earlier, we briefly discussed SARS, or Serious Acute Respiratory Syndrome, as it is more properly known.
Who can forget the shocking news as reported by our trusty media in early 2003 – impending doom, panic-buying, shortages of face-masks (which trebled in price!), thermal cameras and “quarantine” teams in airports around the World, closed borders, public terror and, perhaps inevitably, and most disturbingly, calls for the ever-present saviours of the modern World, the pharmaceutical industry, to rescue us with rushed, untested and potentially lethal new vaccines, that, given the urgency of the situation, would be spared the tediously laborious but frighteningly unreliable (even at its most “carefully” slow) drug approval system.
So serious was the impending disaster that so-called leading authorities led us to expect the infection of billions. 1
Of course, as ever, the ingenious, altruistic boffins in big-pharma had just the right thing up their sleeves, ready to go into production at a moment’s notice, if only Governments would spare them the expensive and slow approvals process… and allow them to market the results at extortionate prices. Ah, isn’t it great to know there’s a white knight there just when you need them?
Given, the media hype, you’d imagine anyone that came in contact with SARS was destined for a hole in the ground. For example, this was what Hong Kong surgeon Professor Andrew Burd told the BBC:
“With this SARS we have colleagues fighting for their lives. We have an invisible killer in our midst. We are at war, but our enemy has no name, no identity. Now, as I sit at home with my young son quietly sleeping and my wife pottering in the background, I wonder what tomorrow will bring”.2
Alarming stuff, indeed… except for the “pottering” wife, apparently, who didn’t seem to be taking it quite as seriously!
However, SARS was not all it seemed. Those who bothered to look under the media veneer of hype at the actual facts would find a very different story indeed.
Rather than the “new”, “mutated” and “deadly” disease it was purported to be, little, if anything could differentiate SARS from common or garden flu. Eventually, this was even admitted by the World Health Organisation, which accepted that many of those initially diagnosed with SARS, turned out to have other common problems on further investigation.3 Indeed, this is not surprising, given the diagnostic criteria put forward for the “disease”:
- Respiratory illness of unknown cause since 1st Feb 2003
- Temperature greater than 100.4 degrees
- One or more symptoms of respiratory illness such as cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing
- Within 10 days of symptoms, the patient travelled to a place where SARS has spread in the community or had close contact with a suspected SARS victim. 4
Hardly the kind of specific symptoms required to diagnose a “new”, “deadly” or “threatening” disease! On the contrary, it sounds a lot like plain old flu. Not one of the required “symptoms” can be considered as specific to SARS. In fact, the Hong Kong health minister even admitted this very early in the scare when he told BBC Newsnight that there was no test available to distinguish SARS from any other respiratory infection and that the vague, flu-like symptoms were common to numerous other previously existing conditions. 5
So what did differentiate SARS from plain old flu? Perhaps it was a lethal killer, consuming all who came in contact with it? Unfortunately (for the fearmongers) not. Despite the UK ITV 10 O’clock News (just to show we’re not especially biased against the BBC) which announced the shocking development of 23 deaths in a single day throughout Asia, the death rate of SARS was nothing to write home about. In fact it seems it was very much a damp squib. 6 In a population of billions, giving a mortality of around 1 in 10 million this is not only a drop in the ocean, it compares very unfavourably against common flu, which, in 2002 alone, killed 26,000 Americans – approximately 1 in 10,000, so common flu is 100 times more lethal than SARS! 7
So “deadly” was the SARS “epidemic” that it killed only a few hundred people, compared to the thousands that could have been expected to die in a comparable flu “epidemic” (which, of course it wasn’t – an epidemic MUST involve a specific proportion of the population, which SARS never even looked like achieving at any point”.
Are you beginning to see that all that is breathed may not be deadly and that the media are somewhat more than economical with the truth?
Unfortunately, those in the affected areas weren’t quite so discerning, and some were so terrified by the hype that they even killed others they suspected of having the disease for no better reason than the victim sneezed, leading his killer to worry that he might have the infection! 8
Although this is an extreme example, it reflects the sinister way in which we have given up our civil liberties to “protect” ourselves from various impending “threats”, be they “terrorism” or of other origins. The way in which many of those diagnosed with SARS were quarantined against their will, subjected to violent and dangerous medical procedures and then forced to pay for the privilege is indicative of the extreme nature of the Police-state type environment in which we now find ourselves. 9 Take a look at the latest set of “homeland security” or “anti-terror” laws and you’ll get an idea of what’s in store as and when the politicians decide the time is right (whether there is a credible threat or not – with a compliant media, it really doesn’t matter!).
In fact, talking of the media, there’s something of an enigma that was never mentioned on the television, in the newspapers, on newsnight or anywhere else, it would seem, other than in the pages of an excellent book by health researcher Steven Ransom. In all of the myriad coverage of SARS, both at home and abroad, Ransom noticed that not one of the reporters wore a protective face-mask! Hardly the behaviour one would expect from professional journalists in a “deadly” environment – or did they know more than they were letting on? 10
Ransom even wrote to the BBC to raise the issue. Not surprisingly, he never got a response from the department responsible.
So what was the “infectious disease” reported as SARS.
Without direct access to the case notes and samples collected at the time, it is very difficult to say with certainty what was actually at the bottom of the problem, although it seems clear that we can be relatively certain it wasn’t as deadly or virulent as we were led to expect. However, there is one event that offers at least what could be a partial explanation, namely the “SARS” outbreak at the “Amoy Gardens” housing complex in Hong Kong.
Notorious for its overcrowding and cramped living accommodations, Hong Kong was one of the first places where “SARS” raised its head. The mass media portrayed the Amoy Gardens as just another apartment block with nothing to distinguish it from any other. The facts, as reported by Steven Ransom, show that it was something else entirely.
“No mention was made of the appalling sanitation system in those buildings. Records from the management office confirmed that there had been numerous complaints from residents on the emission of foul gas from the floor drains indicating the likelihood of the failure of the U-traps in these apartments. Droplets from the free-flowing sewage were being blown into the residents’ individual apartments”. 10
As Fintan Dunne, editor of sarstravel.com succinctly put “In other words… the first headline-grabbing high-profile mass-infection, so called SARS incident arose from the oldest disease source known to man: exposed human excrement.” 11
In the end, the decision is up to you – does this sound like some deadly, mutated, ultra-virulent superbug or just the old adage – don’t crap where you eat?
Which brings us back to pandemic flu in general. Déjà vu anyone?
1 “One billion to be infected with SARS within 60 weeks”. Daily Record, 23rd April 2003.
2“Hong Kong doctors identify killer disease”, BBC News, 19th March 2003. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/2862991.stm
3 WHO SARS update 32, 17th April 2003. http://www.who.int/csr/sarsarchive/2003_04_17/en/
4 Defining SARS. http://www.startribune.com/stories/1556/3848032.html
5 BBC Newsnight, 2nd April 2003
6 ITV 10 O’clock news, 27th April 2003
7 Ransom, Steven. “Wake up to health in the 21st century”. Credence Publications, 2003.
8 “Scared of SARS, man slays sneezer”. http://www.abscbnews.com/abs_news_body.asp?section=metro&id=21493
9 “SARS misdiagnosis proves a costly and bitter experience”. Bangkok post, 29th April 2003.
10 Ransom, Steven. “Wake up to health in the 21st century”. Credence Publications, 2003.
11 Dunne, Fintan. “SARS bubble implodes as sewage hits the fan”. http://www.sarstravel.com/sars_bubble.htm