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BMJ Editor condemns bird flu “scare mongering”

29 June 2007

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British Medical Journal (BMJ) deputy editor Tony Delamothe has attacked the continued scare mongering over bird flu.

He has written: “Somewhere, I imagine, there’s a small group of people proud to be counted among the Friends of Avian Flu, or FAF for short. I suspect they have a catchy mission statement, such as ‘keeping the nightmare alive’.

“This should be getting harder, as influenza H5N1 is proving particularly resistant to undergoing the killer mutation that would allow efficient human-to-human transmission of the virus.

Mr Delamothe has argued that, ten years after the strain first appeared in humans, avian flu has killed just 191 people, despite millions of people and poultry living in very close proximity in South East Asia.

“Although these deaths are a tragedy for the victims and their families, it’s well to remember that a similar number of people die on the roads world wide every 84 minutes,” he says.

He adds: “As influenza pandemics occurred in 1918, 1957, and 1968, another one is likely. But why should we be any more worried in 2007 than in 1997 or 2017? Couldn’t those responsible for planning the next pandemic do their planning a little less publicly and put the frighteners on the rest of us at the appropriate time?”

BMJ article: FAFfing about