Bird Flu, Fear, and Perverse Incentives – David Bell 6/10/24


A 59-year-old man unfortunately died in Mexico in late April. Having been bed-bound for weeks and suffering from type-2 diabetes and chronic renal failure, he was at high risk from respiratory virus infection.

It became newsworthy, and the World Health Organization thousands of miles distant even released a media statement, because recent advances in genetic sequencing allowed the presence of Type A (H5N2) influenza virus – a type of bird flu – to be reported in a single clinical sample a month later. Refuting the WHO’s distant bureaucrats attributing mortality to the virus, Mexico’s health secretary is reported as noting that it was chronic illness that caused the death.

Irrespective of cause, deaths are a tragedy for family and friends. This one made global news purely because of advances in diagnostic technology. The WHO, the media, and a growing pandemic industry had been waiting for this inevitable event, testing and screening, as it is critical to perhaps the largest business scheme in human history. There are hundreds of billions on the table, and the will and means to take it. We all need to understand why, and what is supposed to happen next.

Covid and the Resetting of Public Health

Covid-19 has proven the business case for gain-of-function research. It looks increasingly likely that some genetic fiddling really did succeed in moving a bat coronavirus into humans, where it is more amenable to monetization (there is no profit in sick bats, or fear of them). Importantly, despite the broad economic and health catastrophe that followed, those behind the program are continuing much the same work, and not being held to account. There is vast profit with little or no real risk.

However, what the Covid episode really demonstrated is the financial and political gains that can be achieved irrespective of outbreak severity. As Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret pointed out in mid-2020 in their book Covid-19: The Great Reset, Covid-19 can be used to subvert post-World War II concepts of democracy and human rights and return society to a corporate authoritarian model (“Stakeholder Capitalism”), even though the illness is usually mild.

What is needed is a shared narrative among those who stand to benefit; media, governments, and the corporate world. While the term “Great Reset” seems to have been discarded as unpopular, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) stated intent to penetrate governments and change society to the benefit of their members is clearly undiminished.

Devastating mortality is not needed to drive societal change; just the fear of it. You need a test, visuals such as masks and circles on the pavement, a dependent media, and a research and health establishment whose career opportunities are dependent on compliance. The ramping up of surveillance for the vast sea of viral variants that is nature has just been officially confirmed through the adoption of amendments to the 2005 International Health Regulations at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva. Irrespective of the reality of risk or the massively disproportionate public funding required, the world is going to find a lot more potential threats, and is building a whole industry that will ensure they translate into corporate profit.

The Opportunity of Influenza

Avian influenza, or bird flu, has been around perhaps as long as birds (so was likely a dinosaur malady in Cretaceous times). Humans must have lived alongside it for over 200,000 years, and our primate ancestors far longer. Bird flu viruses are part of a range of variants of the influenza virus family that undergo regular mutation and recombination (even mixing genome from viruses that normally infect different species) that makes them appear relatively new to our immune system. This makes them more harmful and results in a new influenza outbreak almost every year, as our immunity from the last one (or from a prior influenza vaccine) only partially addresses the next.

Sometimes, recombination allows an influenza virus that is mostly confined to other animals, such as birds, to undergo a wider shift that allows it to infect other species, such as humans. This is similar to what scientists sometimes try to simulate in the lab through ‘gain-of-function’ research, such as modifying bat coronaviruses to become pathogenic to humans.

Humans have always lived in very close proximity with, and eaten, animals that harbor influenza viruses. The last major ‘spillover’ of influenza from birds to humans was the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918-19. It killed perhaps 20 to 40 million people, most probably due to secondary bacterial pneumonia as there were no modern antibiotics. In the century since, an event of this nature has not recurred, and with modern antibiotics and medical care, the mortality of the Spanish flu should now be far lower.

So, why are we seeing the current hysteria regarding bird flu, and why is the media promoting narratives such as potential mortality massively greater than the Spanish flu or any influenza outbreak in human history? The answer, presumably, lies earlier in this article. A very wealthy corporate and financial sector that is influential over governments and media that knows, and has demonstrated, that wealth can be concentrated to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars through fear of a virus.

There is now a rapidly expanding army of virologists, ‘virus hunters,’ public health bureaucrats, and modelers whose sole reason for receiving funding is to find and publicize new variants of viruses. We have international public-private partnerships devoted to developing and distributing vaccines for such events, supported by taxpayer funding. We also have a draft pandemic treaty that has just been deferred by the WHA, intended to further increase public funding for this private good. From an industry viewpoint, its rapid passage in the coming months would benefit from fear and urgency….

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