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    Bird Flu Could Be ‘10 Times Worse’ Than COVID, FDA Commissioner Warns

    May 21, 2024
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    FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Wednesday warned that a potential bird flu pandemic could have a mortality rate of 25%. Public health experts Dr. David Bell and Brian Hooker, Ph.D., questioned the urgency and extent of the threat, calling Califf’s claims “farcical” and “overblown.”

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    By John-Michael Dumais

    U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf on Wednesday warned that a potential bird flu pandemic could be “10 times worse than COVID-19,” with a mortality rate of up to 25%. However, he also admitted the risk of the virus spreading to humans is still low.

    In his testimony before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Califf said the FDA needed to “Be ready and … do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus, which has gone around the world multiple times now in many different species.”

    In preparation for the bird flu jumping to humans, Califf emphasized the need for “countermeasures” such as testing, antivirals and “a vaccine ready to go.”

    The U.S. government’s Strategic National Stockpile has three FDA-approved H5N1 vaccines, manufactured by Sanofi, GSK and CSL Seqirus. All contain mercury.

    However, some have raised concerns about the effectiveness of these vaccines, as they were developed based on older strains of the H5N1 virus.

    Pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna, are developing new bird flu vaccines that better match the currently circulating strains.

    Califf’s pronouncements were followed today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture offering farmers up to $28,000 each to enhance protective measures and testing for the bird flu virus in dairy cows, according to STAT News.

    Bird flu scare ‘farcical’

    Experts who spoke with The Defender questioned the urgency and extent of the bird flu threat.

    Brian Hooker, Ph.D., chief scientific officer for Children’s Health Defense (CHD), said Califf’s urgency seemed “overblown” given the lengthy period between the Spanish flu pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “It appears Califf is joining the choir of public officials and former public officials eagerly predicting the next pandemic a mere four years after the last one started,” Hooker told The Defender.

    Dr. David Bell, a public health physician and biotech consultant, agreed with Hooker, telling The Defender the bird flu scare was “farcical.”

    “We did not have a bad outbreak for over a century, and there is every likelihood that we won’t again,” Bell said. “We are using technology to pretend that new threats are occurring because we can now detect them.”

    The Daily Mail noted that only two people in the U.S. have tested positive for bird flu, and both were in close contact with infected animals.

    In the Texas case reported in April, the H5N1-infected worker “reported eye redness (consistent with conjunctivitis), as his only symptom, and is recovering,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Timing of bird flu claims ‘beyond suspicious’

    Hooker said the timing of Califf’s pronouncements about the potential bird flu pandemic appeared suspect in light of the upcoming vote on the World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic treaty and amendments to the International Health Regulations, scheduled for the end of May.

    “If passed, these amendments would grant the WHO march-in rights to any country if the secretary-general of the WHO unilaterally declares a pandemic,” Hooker said. “So much for civil liberties and free speech.”

    On Monday’s episode of CHD.TV’s “Doctors & Scientists” — “Bird Flu: What You Need to Know” — Hooker and Heather Ray, a scientific analyst for CHD, remarked on the “beyond suspicious” timing of the growing rhetoric from officials like former Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Director Rick Bright, who are also warning about the risk of a severe bird flu pandemic.

    Bright, a BARDA whistleblower, is now the CEO of Bright Global Health, which focuses on responses to public health emergencies, according to The New York Times.

    The pressure to declare the next pandemic may also be a consequence of greater pushback against the WHO proposals after 49 U.S. senators last week called on President Joe Biden to withdraw his support for them.

    Two U.S. states, Utah and Florida, passed laws that prevent any WHO agreement from overriding state lawmakers’ authority over public health policy. Louisiana and Oklahoma are considering similar legislation.

    And on Wednesday, 22 state attorneys general told Biden they oppose his plans to grant the WHO sweeping new powers.

    Evidence shows viral outbreaks decreasing

    In a Global Policy paper published Thursday, Bell and co-authors argued that the WHO, World Bank and G20’s “urgent pandemic messaging” is inconsistent with their evidence base, suggesting that the stated urgency and burden of infectious disease outbreaks are “grossly misrepresented.”

    Rather than demonstrating increasing risk, a WHO chart showing major epidemics every 4-5 years “demonstrates mostly low-level recurrence or persistence of diseases that were formerly of far greater burden,” the paper stated.

    The authors critiqued evidence from sources like the Global Infectious Disease and Epidemiology Network (GIDEON) database cited by the World Bank.

    “Analyses of the GIDEON database and other papers cited by WHO and partner agencies indicate a reduction in the frequency of natural outbreaks arising from zoonoses [diseases spreading to humans from animals] … over the past one to two decades,” they wrote.

    They argued this contradicts the narrative — promoted by international organizations — of accelerating risk and suggests “further analysis of risk and burden is required” before diverting the planned tens of billions of dollars in funding to pandemic preparedness, potentially at the expense of other health priorities.

    “We have never in human history — perhaps in 100,000 years of homo sapiens — had 25% die from an influenza virus, mainly because once passing through humans, viruses tend to reduce rapidly in severity,” Bell told The Defender.

    Multiple government agencies conducting gain-of-function research on H5N1 virus

    Hooker and Ray during their CHD.TV presentation expressed concerns about the numerous U.S. government agencies and their academic associates involved in gain-of-function research on the H5N1 virus that is now infecting U.S. cattle.

    They noted that at least three U.S. entities — the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Influenza Division, BARDA and the University of Wisconsin — have been working on this type of research, particularly on the same clade that is infecting cattle.

    They also pointed out potential conflicts of interest among the researchers involved in these gain-of-function studies. They mentioned that Christine Oshansky, Ph.D., the lead researcher on a 2011 University of Georgia study that infected human lung cells with four different strains of bird flu, is now program chief at BARDA focusing on influenza and emerging infectious disease pandemic vaccines and adjuvants.

    Another researcher, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Ph.D., who was deeply involved in gain-of-function research at the University of Wisconsin, is affiliated with the WHO and is a co-founder of the vaccine company FluGen, they said.

    According to Hooker, Kawaoka has 78 U.S. patents. “The lion’s share of his patents are on bird flu formulations, bird flu vaccines, different proteins within H5N1, H7N9,” he said.

    Hooker and Ray said the connections between government agencies, academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies could influence the push for pandemic preparedness measures and the development of vaccines, despite the potential risks associated with gain-of-function research.

    “We cannot trust the powers that be,” Hooker said. “They are using vaccine development as a guise for bioweapons research and bioweapons development.”

    “It is no wonder that a bird flu pandemic could be at hand,” Hooker told The Defender.

    John-Michael Dumais is a news editor for The Defender. He has been a writer and community organizer on a variety of issues, including the death penalty, war, health freedom and all things related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “© [Article Date] Children’s Health Defense, Inc. This work is reproduced and distributed with the permission of Children’s Health Defense, Inc. Want to learn more from Children’s Health Defense? Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. Your donation will help to support us in our efforts.

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