How close were we to a deadly pandemic in January of this year?
According to several published sources, we were teetering on the brink. That's because seasonal flu vaccines manufactured by US-based pharmaceutical company Baxter International had been contaminated with the deadly avian flu virus called H5N1.1 The contaminated vaccine made by a Baxter facility in Orth-Donau, Austria was shipped to numerous distributors in Austria, Germany, Slowenia, and the Czech Republic.
Were it not for the good sense of a lab in the Czech Republic that inoculated ferrets with the serum to check its safety, we might now be facing a global pandemic of avian flu -- of which there is a 60% mortality rate.2 The fact that the ferrets died soon after they were given the vaccine raised a red flag to scientists and government authorities. Ferrets do not die when exposed to seasonal flu viruses.
What makes this situation even more chilling is that the avian flu virus by itself does not easily infect people. But when mixed with an easily transmissible strain like the seasonal flu virus, the hybrid strain can be just as contagious.
How could Baxter have let this happen? Was it intentional as some people believe? Even the respected Dr. Mercola has his suspicions.4 A pandemic would certainly trigger a worldwide demand for the avian flu vaccine. Baxter happens to be one of only six international companies licensed to develop flu vaccines. If a pandemic occurred...well , you can do the math in terms of profits to be made.
The other possibility is that Baxter was not following its own stringent biosafety protocol to prevent cross-contamination of infectious materials. This protocol, called Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3), if followed, makes it virtually impossible for a situation like this to occur.2
Could a major pharmaceutical company really be so careless in handling an infectious agent that could possibly kill tens of millions of people? If so, should they even be allowed to remain in business? The human race can't afford mistakes of this magnitude.
Not surprisingly, Baxter has said little on the subject. Christopher Bona, Baxter's Director of Global Bioscience Communications said the cross-contamination occurred as "the result of a combination of just the process itself, (and) technical and human error in this procedure."3 He declined to say more because he did not want to reveal proprietary secrets about their production process. (If anyone wants to steal that kind of production process, they should be first in line for one of Baxter's vaccines.)
We can only pray that Baxter doesn't get off the hook with such a vague excuse. They would like nothing better than for this story to just go away so that the American public, which is already skittish about vaccines, doesn't rise up in total revolt against them.
And sadly enough, the Western media seem to be helping them in keeping the story quiet. Has anyone really heard much about this terrifying near miss from the major news outlets in the US? Do we know if any Baxter employee or executive will be held accountable? Most importantly, can we be assured that this kind of mistake (if it was a mistake) can't and won't happen again?
People for Immunization (PFI) that will be traveling across the US to reassure the public about the safety and necessity of vaccines. Before they give you their sales pitch, let them answer the questions raised in this article.