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Swine flu: A masterful business strategy?
Swine flu has certainly posed some difficult questions for us, not just in terms of health but also morality. Many new theories have been propounded on how this stranger came into our fold.

IN THE past decade, the world has suffered from many pandemics. Among them, swine flu is the most celebrated influenza of contemporary times. The debate regarding whether the media has hyped this influenza to a level of super stardom is still on. In the name of spreading awareness among the masses, the people responsible for the hype have only succeeded in vandalising the morale of the people, thus creating a sense of panic in society. The need for looking into the ethos of reporting such sensitive issues in a more subtle way is being realised. But this debate will never reach a consensus until the malignancy of commercialisation of human fears is put in its place.

However, this season of fever might have aided some hedonistic interests and we are beginning to hear a few voices cry foul. It's very premature to start an endeavour to find out the truth behind these new theories that have sprouted like mushrooms in the rainy season. These theories might even fail to stand strong in time and space but before we recant them blindly, let's put the facts together so that we can ponder on them in our private space. The first signs of blasphemy came to light when it was reported that some top officials of WHO and UN has raised the argument that the epidemic of the new strand of swine flu virus in Mexico is the result of an artificially created pathogen. This report from Mexico City claims that the H1N1 virus has certain joint transmission vectors, having close resemblances with other virus such as the HIV virus and the ebola virus. This story reached the belligerent conclusion that the swine flu virus was artificially manufactured in a US military base laboratory to be used as a bio-weapon. These claims are further re-asserted by the fact that the usual process of transmission is from a pig to a human, which is not the case in this outbreak because no case of a pig being infected with the A-H1N1 virus has been registered. So after all was this strange creature a product of man's devour for power?

There is another interesting theory that is begging for our attention. I prefer to call this the lost cousin theory. Tamiflu arising out of the blue as the sole remedy for swine flu has drawn similarities to old Bollywood movies where two brothers get separated in childhood and then when there is a period of crisis they come together to win over the enemy. However the obvious reasons for their unification were propounded through a very popular e-mail from 2006. It claims that Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Defence Secretary, had a major share of the company Gilead Sciences Inc which developed Tamiflu and then later on sold its patent to Roche Laboratories. So he enjoyed the benefits directly or indirectly of the rising company's stock price because Roche pays a royalty of 10 per cent to Gilead. According to sources, Rumsfeld was the chairman of Gilead from the 1997 until the time he joined President Bush`s cabinet. However the Pentagon in a statement issued in 2006 has said that Rumsfeld has no relationship with Gilead beyond his investment in the company. Co-relating the former US defence secretary’s involvement along with the fact that the swine flu virus is an artificially created pathogen will surely raise a few eyebrows.

The other substantial claim is that Tamiflu does not cure the flu rather it can only reduce the severity of it. There are also reports of side effects that this one stop remedy hides within its fold. However the world has not bothered to give much attention to such hearsay. Almost 60 countries including India are among their elite customer list thanks to organisations like WHO. A company which failed to produce substantial turnarounds in profit for a larger part of its history is however on a path of grievance redress and revival. In the last five years, their sales and stock market prices have been unmatched by many of the reputed pharmaceutical companies. When all this information is put together to make the complete jigsaw, we are faced with certain tough questions for which answers remain unknown. We may even take the liberty of dismissing these theories as obscure facts. But if it was after all a business strategy then we should know that prevention is always better than cure.

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