Total of British soldiers killd in Afghanistan = 327
The fog of carefully contrived bluster and confusion on Swine Flu is disappearing.
I have been putting in parliamentary queries. They designed to get answers to the questions that Government inquiry did not ask. One answer has been taken up by a perceptive reporter on the Daily Mail.
Daniel Martins writes;- "The £1.2billion spent on tackling the swine flu pandemic that never was may have saved as few as 26 lives at a cost of up to £46million each, an astonishing study has found. The vast sum spent on vaccinations, anti-virals and face-masks prevented such a paltry number of deaths because the virus turned out to be far less deadly than normal flu.
The £46milllion cost of saving each life is enough to pay the salary of almost 2,000 nurses. The Government spent £1.2billion addressing the pandemic. And, amazingly, ministers believe the number of saved lives estimated by the Health Protection Agency could actually be an over-estimate.
Critics said the revelation was the final indictment of the panicked reaction to the flu outbreak by the Labour government.
In the end, just 342 people died in England. At the height of the panic, chief medical officer Liam Donaldson warned that as many as 65,000 could die. The news that so few lives may were saved will be greeted with particular anger by the families of terminally ill people denied life-extending cancer drugs.
Drugs rationing watchdog Nice only approves drugs if they cost less than £30,000 a year. Using that benchmark, the £46million cost per life saved would have paid for six months of drugs for up to 3,000 cancer patients.
The existence of the study, which had not been publicised, was revealed in an answer to a parliamentary-question by Labour MP Paul Flynn. Even the official review of the swine flu pandemic, out earlier this month, made no mention of the low number of prevented deaths.
Last night Mr Flynn said: 'The truth is finally beginning to come out about the pandemic that never was. Governments were afraid, and went along with buying anti-virals and vaccines because they had nothing else to offer. 'It's placebo medicine on a grand scale, bought at the expense of hundreds of millions of pounds.'
The study, by the Health Protection Agency looked at how effective the vaccines bought from drugs companies GlaxoSmithKline and Baxter were, and compared this to how severe the virus turned out to be.
They calculated that between 26 and 67 lives were saved by the swine flu vaccination programme. It may also have prevented 10,000 hospital admissions - but this only saved the NHS between £6.7million and £21.5million.
The written answer to Paul Flynn, by public health minister Anne Milton, revealed that the Department of Health believes the number of prevented deaths calculated in the study may even be an over-estimate.
She said: 'These estimates are based on a number of assumptions about the vaccination programme and the performance of the vaccine, including that the uptake of vaccine in clinical risk groups would reach 70 per cent by early November 2009.
'In fact, the uptake was about 30 per cent by late December 2009. Therefore, the number of cases and deaths prevented may be of a lower range than these estimates.'
There is a fresh eruption on interest in Swine Flu across Europe. Today I did interviews for news media in Finland, Poland and for the James Whale Show on LBC. It was unfortuante that I could not respond to the Government 'whitewash' of their vast over-reaction to the scare because I was in Geneva giving evidence to the WHO. I have not yet been lucky in getting a debate in parliament.
The truth will come out - even if it will take some time.
Punching the air
Two enthusiasts were depressed. One because young people were missing out of experiencing the excitement and beauty of classical music. the other grieves that Welsh young people has lost the joy of choral music.
One formed an orchestra of young musicians of undistinguished talent and poor motivation. The other recruited an ONLY BOYS ALOUD choir. Yesterday and tonight, TV told the frustrating tale of preparing the groups for public performances.
Both were heroic triumphs. Hearty congratulations!