Billy! Don’t be a hero!

by endlesspsych

Billy Corgan, of Smashing pumpkins fame, is at it again, this time he’s proclaiming that the Swine Flu virus is perhaps, maybe, could be, manmade…

I would suggest however that it is possible the virus is not a naturally occurring virus. I have read reports from people who say (as doctors) that there is evidence to suggest this virus was created by man; to call it Swine Flu is then a misnomer, as it really is Swine Flu plus some other stuff stitched together. These doctors said such genetic mutation was impossible in nature.

“I have read reports” – well there is no links in that particular post but he does mention links he has been sending of late… However these must be housed somewhere other than the blog this story is published on.

ETA: Orac has a blog up about this and is better at doing research then me!

Again, apparently Billy does his “research” on anti-vaccine crank sites and quack sites, if the links he’s posted are any indication, links to articles like The Goal of Every H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine: Immunotoxicity, Neurotoxicity and Sterility (which is so full of lies it deserves its own post to debunk) or The Threat of Mandatory Vaccinations. As for “holistic,” Billy’s “examination of the evidence” is anything but holistic. Clearly he’s cherry picked the most outrageously anti-vaccine lies he can find from the Internet and blogosphere. Here’s a hint, Billy: If you’re being promoted by the anti-vaccine crank blog Age of Autism, you earn an EPIC FAIL when it comes to understanding vaccines and “dis-ease.”

In fairness though I think we could have guessed as to the quality of the evidence or sources Corgan was referring to…

Now I don’t necessarily disagree that the fear of swine flu may be a real and observable phenomena but in my experience most people aren’t too fussed about it, this includes people who have had the illness and those who are fond of pointing out that normal flu kills more people. Ben Goldacres take on the matter seems appropriate to mention at this juncture.

First it was the emails, and the tweets. This is all nonsense about the aporkalypse, surely? Just like with Sars, and bird flu, and MMR, is this all hype? The answer is no, but more interesting is this: for so many people, their very first assumption on the story is that the media are lying. It is the story of the boy who cried wolf.

We are poorly equipped to think around issues involving risk, and infectious diseases epidemiology is a tricky business: the error margins on the models are wide, and it’s extremely hard to make clear predictions.

Perhaps this indicates a difference in how Americans and Brits react to such stories. The Americans in a flap and the Brits assuming it’s probably all a load of overhyped bollocks. Indeed Ben was asked by the media to provide balance to the Swine Flu story…

By Tuesday, pundit-seekers from the media were suddenly contacting me, a massive nobody, to say that swine flu is all nonsense and hype, like some kind of blind, automated naysaying device. “Will you come and talk about the media overhyping swine flu?” asked Case Notes on Radio 4. No. “We need someone to say it’s all been overhyped,” said BBC Wales.

I assumed they were adhering, robotically, to the “balance” template, but no: he kept at it, even when I protested and explained. “Yeah, but you know, it could be like Sars and bird flu, they didn’t materialise, they were hype.” Simon Jenkins suggested the same thing. It’s not true, I said. They were risks, risks that didn’t materialise, but they were still risks. That’s what a risk is. I’ve never been hit by a car, but it’s not idiotic to think about it. Simon Jenkins won’t be right if nobody dies, he’ll be lucky, like the rest of us. Do people think this flappily in casinos? The terrible truth is yes.

The reason that people are saying swine flu is a risk is because… well it is. SARS was also a risk but the principles of modern medicine prevented it from becoming a serious one. Imagine if swine flu becomes the new beubonic (sic) plague how would we react to governments/media/health organisations that had downplayed the risk? If even just thousands died (which seems a likely number in the UK) we would rightly crucify them for not properly warning the public! Then again they probably can’t win because if swine flu proves to be a damp squib then we will likely mock them for overreacting or pillory them for trying to keep the public in a state of fear and dependence…

I for one will not be taking the vaccine. I do not trust those who make the vaccines, or the apparatus behind it all to push it on us thru fear. This is not judgment; it is a personal decision based on research, intuition, conversations with my doctor and my ‘family’. If the virus comes to take me Home, that is between me and the Lord. I have put up some of these links to inspire the question in you, so that perhaps you can make a better decision for yourself. That is what holistic life is about: a willingness to look at all the facts or opinions.

I for one really hope Billy Corgan doesn’t become one of the victims of swine flu – I’d quite miss his band’s music (quite liking the new song) but I have to say I have to guffaw when I see that this personal decision is based on “a willingness to look at all the facts or opinions”… If one reviews the science behind vaccination then one would surely see it is safe and that potential side effects are thought to be low. Choosing not to vaccinate on the basis that people may be afraid of “swine flu” or because of some vague concerns about a conspiracy to keep everyone in check is, to put it bluntly, bloody stupid. Very bloody stupid. It’s an obstinate refusal to look at the evidence and is closed minded in the extreme.

But the main thing I want to take issue with (and I touched upon it briefly in this previous post) the idea that:

there is evidence to suggest this virus was created by man; to call it Swine Flu is then a misnomer, as it really is Swine Flu plus some other stuff stitched together. These doctors said such genetic mutation was impossible in nature.

Ok at this point I want to recommend Dorothy Crawfords (Professor of Medical Microbiology and Assistant principal for the public understanding of Medicine at The University of Edinburgh) excellent book “Deadly Companions“. People who believe swine flu to be somehow engineered or man-made could learn a great deal from this book. From actually engaging with and looking at the scientific evidence rather than spreading fear and mistrust based on little more than there own fears and prejudices.The quote below comes from pages 204-205 of said book:

After an attack of flu we are protected by antibodies directed mostly against H (Haemagglutinin) and N (neuromidase) proteins on the surface of the virus particle. So after an epidemic most people are immune, the virus loses its power. But Unlike other viruses that cause acute infections, the flu virus fights back by changing it’s H and N genes so that it can dodge our immune system and re-infect.

What we witness here is an evolutionary arms race between the various subtypes of the flu virus and our immune systems. There are currently 16 known H antigens and 9 known N antigens which results in at least (please correct me if my math is incorrect) 144 different combinations (of which swine flu is but one that has made the jump to human beings) even without taking into account new mutations that’s probably more than enough to be getting on with!

Because the virus has a segmented genome with eight separate genes, those from different strains sometime get mixed and matched to create new strains. This happens when two different strains of flu virus infect the same cell and hybrid viruses emerge… Gene swapping between human and bird strains often occurs in pig or horses.

There is no need for the men in white coats to be interfering with viruses and microbes in laboratories cackling maniaclly to themselves. The nature of nature as red in tooth and claw is more than enough to throw up new flu virus variants as the evolutionary arms race between viruses and the immune system continues.