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Rapid response to:

Editor's Choice

Zika, and rapid diagnostic tests for malaria

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 11 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i841

Rapid Response:

Zika Virus--Fear is the Key.

Dear Editor,

“Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

I wonder how many of the readers remember the WHO’s pandemic alert on swine ‘flu some years ago? When the WHO was proactive to announce a pandemic then without any scientific justifications I was the one who wrote that that was a business stunt! People did not believe and the British Medical Journal rejected my paper. After one long year what I had predicted came true. Council of Europe Health Committee Chairman Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg said that the declaration of a swine flu pandemic was a false alarm. “There are many signs that there is close cooperation between the WHO and pharmaceutical companies. We have to find out whether there was pressure or whether there was money given as an incentive to the WHO to have this pandemic declared,” Dr. Wolfgang Wodarg adds.

Zika virus is a member of the virus family Flaviviridae and the genus Flavivirus, transmitted by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes, such as A. aegypti, which also carries the dengue virus. Its name comes from the Zika Forest of Uganda, where the virus was first isolated in 1947. Of the initial 4,180 suspected cases of microcephaly in Brazil recently, only 270 cases have been confirmed by Brazil's Health Ministry as actual microcephaly. Of the 270 cases, medical researchers could only correlate six cases of microcephaly to the Zika virus. This means 264 confirmed microcephaly cases didn't even show a trace of Zika virus! So why is Zika virus being blamed for the birth defects?

As of now the link between microcephaly and the zika virus is only a hypothesis without much backing in science. It is more of an allegation which has to be proven. This unproven allegation is neither a proper logical nor legal basis for the WHO Global Health Emergency Declaration. Rather, the best evidence is that the Rockefeller Institute’s proprietary Zika Virus does not cause birth defects like microcephaly.

Many of the most notable problems with medicines over the past few years – with the arthritis drug Vioxx; with the diabetes drug rosiglitazone, marketed as Avandia; cholesterol and its lowering agents like statins, slow viral origin of SMON and with the evidence base for Tamiflu – weren't spotted primarily by regulators, but rather by independent doctors and academics. Regulators don't miss things because they are corrupt, or incompetent. They miss things because detecting signals of risk and benefit in reviews of clinical trials is a difficult business and so, like all difficult questions in science, it benefits from having many people scrutinising them.

To give a simple example of the swine ‘flu drug Tamiflu when given to a million people 45,000 will experience vomiting, 31,000 will experience headache and 11,000 will have psychiatric side-effects. These figures might be insignificant if Tamiflu cures swine ‘flu. That is not the case.

To the best of my knowledge not a single person has died to date of Zika virus infection since 1947. It is such a trivial, many times subclinical, infection which makes you feel uneasy for a couple of days. Now with the bogey of birth defects added to the Zika make people all over are dead scared. I get daily many letters asking me what they should do when they get pregnant to avoid zika. Raising the fear levels in society is the surest way of depressing their immune system! This is good for business. With people’s immune system depressed they are prone to all kinds of infections.

There was an editorial in The Lancet on “epidemiologists causing epidemics.” The Zika related birth defects story is a good example of that. What are the facts as of now? Of the 270 cases, medical researchers could only correlate six cases of microcephaly to the Zika virus. Despite that the WHO scientists (epidemiologists) have declared an international scare of Global Health Emergency Declaration. Now every mild fever patient will be labelled Zika infection, thus raising the incidence to fit an epidemic (pandemic) label.

What follows next is the usual history. Greedy drug companies will now vie with each other to produce a vaccine. An Indian company has already done it. Vaccination is big business. I am sure some other big sharks will come out with some discarded molecule to say that they have discovered a potent anti-viral drug for zika. This pattern goes on and on as long as money and medicine are related. I was the only one saying all these so far. What makes me too happy is that the main line top medical journal, British Medical Journal, in its editorial written by the editor, Fiona Godlee, herself told us that medical establishment is full of scams only! My letter to the editor is also there. Richard Smith, a former celebrated editor of BMJ, wrote there to say that medicine is full of scams and we will be able to do nothing about it thanks to human greed! God save mankind from these greedy sharks and let people live an anxiety free life.

At this stage a thinking reader might ask as to why the two, zika and birth defects, are connected? Natural curiosity indeed! What the evidence shows is that ONLY six cases out of 270 patients of microcephaly were associated with the Zika virus. This is called association in statistics and NOT cause-effect relationship. There is NO SCIENTIFIC evidence to date that the poor Zika virus has anything to do with birth defects. Naturally, the reader will wonder why are the media and the establishment (WHO) are bending over backwards to connect the two? I would not be surprised if they are trying to cover up some other man made serious problem which is causing the birth defects. The real reason for birth defects might harm the interests of big business. Could that be the reason? God only knows. But science does not believe in God, so they are safe.

“Hope strengthens. Fear kills. That simple adage is master of every situation, every choice. Each morning we wake up, we get to choose between hope and fear and apply one of those emotions to everything we do. Do we greet things that come our way with joy? Or suspicion?”
Karen Marie

yours ever,
bm hegde

Competing interests: No competing interests

12 February 2016
BM Hegde
Retd Vice Chancellor
World Academy of Authentic Healing Sciences
Mangalore-575 004 India