Last year many Americans were convinced the H1N1 virus, commonly called the swine flu, would turn into a pandemic. That’s no surprise given the fear mongering media.
News media helped make the case for the government to rush a vaccine and the government spent over a billion dollars producing those vaccinations. But now, according to the April 1, 2010 Washington Post millions of vaccines are still unused – 71.5 million vaccinations will soon expire and may even have to be thrown away.
Washington Post writer Rob Stein reported that of the 229 million vaccinations created by the $1.6 billion “government-led program,” not even half have been administered, partially because of “production problems” which set back the delivery time.
Stein pointed out the criticism being directed against the World Health Organization for “inflating the risk,” but didn’t mention the American news media’s fear of pandemic or support for the vaccination program.
The media certainly helped blow things out of proportion. During a three day time frame in April 2009, CNN used the word “pandemic” in 51 swine flu stories, while FOX used it 10 times.
CNN also found an outrageous historical comparison. Although the Spanish flu killed 50 million people, Dr. Martin Blaser compared swine flu to the 1918 pandemic on CNN’s “American Morning” on April 30, 2009.
Blaser warned that, “I think that’s the most likely scenario because of, because influenza is very influenced by the season and in 1918 it came. There was a little bump in the early summer. It went underground and then it did come back with a vengeance. And that would be predictable here.”
The network news and print media also spread worry about the virus. “The fear here is because the people in Mexico who’ve died have been in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and that is what happened in 1918 when we had a new flu strain,” said a concerned Robert Bazell of NBC on April 27, 2009.
The following day, Ricardo Alonsozaldivar and Eileen Sullivan of the Associated Press warned that there might be up to 2 million deaths because of H1N1. Vice President Biden was also gripped by fear of the swine flu and warned Americans not to fly in planes and suggested avoiding subways.
According to the Post story, CDC estimated that H1N1 sickened more than 60 million people and killed more than 12,000. That is roughly one-third of the number of deaths due to a typical seasonal flu.