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Swine Flu – it was all a bit blah really January 29, 2010

Posted by N.C.OnlineTraining in Uncategorized.
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Every generation has had to fight for their survival against the latest killer disease to enter society. For my generation it was the fear of AIDS and the world went crazy getting people to practice safe sex. Which was fun. For my grandparents it was Polio, which despite sounding like a fun game enjoyed amongst the upper classes, killed about 10,000 worldwide.

More recently, we’ve been experiencing multiple outbreaks which threaten to wipe out humanity and leave our pets to rule the world. Before Swine Flu there was SARS. And before SARS was the MMR vaccine scare (which deserves a separate post all in itself!). But the problem with Swine Flu was that the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the disease as a Pandemic. Now, by normal standards, a Pandemic had previously required “enormous numbers of deaths.” And at 13,000, this certainly wasn’t the case here. 

What relevance does this have to media studies? Well the media were certainly involved in whipping up a moral panic (remember Stanley Cohen and the Mods and Rockers?). This time however, money was involved, which is why the WHO are currently meeting in Geneva amid claims that they, along with drugs company GlaxoSmithKline, created the moral panic in order to sell more of the vaccine they’d discovered. Conspiracy theory anyone? Read more about the story here.

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