It does raise serious questions about where this brand new, never before seen virus came from, especially since it cannot be contracted from eating pork products, and has never before been seen in pigs, and contains traits from the bird flu and which so far only seems to respond to Tamiflu.
According to the Associated Press at least one financial analyst estimates up to $388 million worth of Tamiflu sales in the near future. That's without a pandemic outbreak.
More than half a dozen pharmaceutical companies, including Gilead Sciences Inc., Roche, GlaxoSmithKline and other companies with a stake in flu treatments and detection, have seen a rise in their shares in a matter of days, and will likely see revenue boosts if the swine flu outbreak continues to spread.
In February 2009, American pharmaceutical company Baxter was under investigation for distributing the deadly avian flu virus to 18 different countries as part of a seasonal flu vaccine shipment. Czech reporters were probing to see if it may have been part of a deliberate attempt to start a pandemic; as such a "mistake" would be virtually impossible under the security protocols of that virus.
The contaminated product, a mix of H3N2 seasonal flu viruses and unlabelled H5N1 viruses, was supplied to an Austrian research company. The Austrian firm, Avir Green Hills Biotechnology, then sent portions of it to sub-contractors in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Germany.
The contaminated product, which Baxter calls “experimental virus material,” was made at the Orth-Donau research facility. Baxter makes its flu vaccine, including a human H5N1 vaccine (for which a licence is expected shortly) at a facility in the Czech Republic. People familiar with biosecurity rules are dismayed by evidence that human H3N2 and avian H5N1 viruses somehow co-mingled in the Orth-Donau facility. That is a dangerous practice that should not be allowed to happen, a number of experts insisted.
While H5N1 doesn’t easily infect people, H3N2 viruses do. If someone exposed to a mixture of the two had been simultaneously infected with both strains, he or she could have served as an incubator for a hybrid virus able to transmit easily to and among people. That mixing process, called “reassortment”, is one of two ways pandemic viruses are created in the lab.
Reassortment is the mixing of the genetic material of two similar viruses that are infecting the same cell. In particular, reassortment occurs among influenza viruses, whose genomes consist of eight distinct segments of RNA. These segments act like mini-chromosomes, and each time a flu virus is assembled, it requires one copy of each segment.
The H5N1 virus on its own is not very airborne. However, when combined with seasonal flu viruses, which are more easily spread, the effect could be a potent, airborne, deadly, biological weapon. If this batch of live bird flu and seasonal flu viruses had reached the public, it could have resulted in terrible consequences. Some scientists say the most recent global outbreak (the 1977 Russian flu) was started by a virus created and leaked from a laboratory.
A top scientist for the United Nations, who has examined the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Africa, as well as HIV/AIDS victims, has concluded that the current swine flu virus possesses certain transmission "vectors" that suggest the new strain has been genetically-manufactured. The UN expert believes that Ebola, HIV/AIDS, and the current A-H1N1 swine flu virus are biological warfare agents.
Another example of the less sterling integrity of Big Pharma is the case of Bayer, who sold millions of dollars worth of an injectable blood-clotting medicine to Asian, Latin American, and some European countries in the mid-1980s, even though they knew it was tainted with the AIDS virus.
· 1 decade ago