Swine Flu is it a diversion?


Jun 20, 2006
Buenos Aires – Swine (Pig) Flu, Influenza, the ‘flu, Gripe, H1N1 – Argentina

The Argentine media is currently turning Buenos Aires into a ‘pariah’ shunned by tourists at the worst possible time.
We make a very clear statement, and ask the golden question:
The Swine (Pig) Flu, Influenza, the ‘flu, Gripe, H1N1 is a worldwide problem. The United States, at the height of summer, has more flu cases and more flu deaths than Argentina. Great Britain, even with a well established, free at source, National Health Service predict 1 in 3 people might contract influenza from October this year and forecasts up to 75,000 deaths.
Is the Argentine administration using Swine Flu to divert media attention from their failing administration and Argentina’s dire economic situation?
Look, this is a serious viral infection, it will kill many people and in no way do we seek to tell people to throw caution to the wind – we are simply ask the question – are tourists more at risk when travelling to Buenos Aires, Argentina than they are at home?
In one month, the weather starts to change in Argentina – hurrah – sunshine, beach holidays, cafe society at its best.
As we approach spring in the Southern Hemisphere, the number of Influenza cases will naturally start to drop.
Conversely, many capitals in the Northern Hemisphere will face the possibility of influenza epidemics in their over-populated cities. This atypical Swine Flu will no doubt be a problem – why – it is already a problem in the Northern Hemisphere at the height of summer.
There is not enough vaccine to go around. There never is. Those countries that do not produce influenza vaccine at home or those outside Europe might find themselves singing, or coughing and spluttering, out in the cold, as Europe’s requirements might outstrip production. When governments tell you they have the vaccine they actually mean they have agreements to take delivery from the large Pharmaceutical companies – believe us when we say, there are always problems.
To vaccinate the entire populations of North America and Europe is just not possible in one season. A mass vaccination program might take two seasons.
It is not just about the cost or the ability to orchestrate such a campaign; it is simply about getting enough vaccine in time to distribute to healthcare professionals. By the time we do have sufficient supply that is well distributed, the virus may be already mutating and the Swine Flu strain we are concerned about today may not be the strain we are worried about tomorrow – this is an epic battle that Mother Nature wins!
You would have read – WE ARE PREPARED! Poppycock, we are never prepared. In former life one of our directors founded Doctors Direct PLC, one of the largest private primary care networks in the United Kingdom and he is a great source of health care management information.
We go back to our opening statement and question – whilst governments around the globe try to communicate a balanced message to their populaces, (because they know that hysteria gives way to panic and the already over-burdened healthcare systems will implode exacerbating the problems) is the Kirchner administration using Swine Flu to divert media attention?
Typical influenza kills over 3000 people each season in Argentina and we should give loud applause to the health care professionals who are dealing with a very difficult virus, a concerned public swamping services, and at the same time managing to dramatically reduce the number of deaths flu nromally causes in Argentina – well done!
We know that Swine (Pig) Influenza, Influenza, the ‘flu, Gripe, H1N1 is highly contagious. We also know that the virus can very quickly move from being an upper respiratory infection to a lower respiratory (systemic) infection when finding hosts from the higher-risk groups. However, at this point, its bark does seem much worse than its bite. WE ask you to ponder again – are tourists safer in Buenos Aires than they might be at home? We think that the Southern Hemisphere may be a much safer place than our cities back home during the autumn and winter 2009.
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Flu is serious, it kills thousands every year. So what makes Swine flu any different. I agree, we should take it seriously but don't panic.
I listenend to a very interesting interview with the BBC chief medical correspondant, and not being a doctor much of what he said failed to sink in, but one thing struck me: He said that the older you are the less likely you are to be badly effected by this strain. This is because the H1N1 virus has been around before so that the older you are, the more likely you are to have some sort of immunity.
All this said, just look at the scare stories that have appeared in the UK and around the world, who is scaring who?
Time for a reality check, take normal hygene precautions, but get on with your lives.
No doubt Andrew is worried about the downturn in tourist arrivals but his theory about the Kirchners is pure fantasy. The Argentine government have been harangued and hounded by the opposition and the general populace to do more about this flu ever since the first cases appeared. They were sending people to their deaths by failing to cancel the elections, and failing to declare a national sanitary emergency, they were in denial, covering up the real death toll, they were lying that soap and water was all that was needed to maintain hygiene (because of their failure to supply the nation with enough alcohol gel), the very existence of the flu in Argentina was due to the negligence of this administration and now they are hyping the dangers to sow fear in the population?

It's enough for the locals to repeat nonsense like this out of blind hatred of their government (or just pure neurotic compulsion) they at least have their own turbulent history as some sort of excuse but for foreigners to come here and just repeat whatever rubbish they hear on the street betrays a complete failure of crtitical thinking.
You are quite right about one thing - during the elections, the government did its double best to keep the flu quiet. Shortly after the election that changed, with the media stirred /briefed into frenzy and as most doctors will tell you that has caused panic amongst the general population and hospitals were near to implosion as a direct result. My article merely posed a question - the main thrust seeks balance – and yours? I rarely listen to street chatter or give much credit to those who write before they think.
The media and the people were in a frenzy about this from not long after the first cases appeared, this is standard procedure here. How you think the government stirs/briefs the media into a frenzy is beyond me, do you watch current affairs and political analysis shows here? They are almost without exception anti government in their stance. The whole point of the hysteria was to attack the credibility of the government.

You oversimplify the operation of political spin, but I do not have time to debate the 'brief or not to brief' argument or the mechanics of media-relations (tongue in cheek) used by the ‘K-rites’ to limit their exposure to a malevolent media. It would be pointless and silly to give you any more rope to hang your belligerence on and take peoples’ minds away from my main thrust.

I pose a few questions; you have answered one and have a view - good! That's done.

The main thrust of my blog piece was about peoples’ decision to travel.

Not to deflect you, but to ensure a well-rounded answer, I ask you to consider the other question - are you safer staying at home or travelling to BA?
PS. I really am very interested in people’s opinions about the flu and their decision making process when deciding to travel or not - I am only poking a little fun at MOXON, I note that you are a prolific ‘poster’ – ‘threader’ – what do we call ourselves – obviously you like to be considered a cerebral ‘post-it’ (maybe) – I try not to take life too seriously, I am thankful it is my writing (questions) being challenged and not my cookies. Anyone attacking my cookies would find me really angry and upset and it might lead me to personalise and defame the owners of this great forum publicly - most certainly, If I was both baker and moderating a lesser competitor forum - you would be wise to watch out!
You seem to have missed the point. Let me put it this way: How was it that the K's came to the decision that making this flu pandemic appear worse than it actually is would 'divert media attention from their failing administration' when this very pandemic (like the dengue outbreak before it) had already become a locus of attack against the credibility of this very same administration?

Do you know whose decision it was to close the theatres here despite advice to the contrary from the government? There are plenty of real reasons to attack the government, why fantastic ones have to be invented is a mystery to me.

Whether it is safer here (which is my home) or my country of birth is irrelevant to me, I don't feel unsafe.
No! You seem to have missed the point - I ask questions (mainly for the purposes of good search engine rankings), this article was taken from my own blog, not posted by me, my main opening statement attacks the media coverage - it is not balanced and unhelpful.
I would really like to thank Pericles for using my blog piece and the various forum users who have emailed me directly, you are very kind, your views are really very helpful!