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Flu & Oil Leaks: Big Business

Drug firms made big money over recent health scare & BP made money on oil spill - Big companies can be vampiric: Despite spending so much to try to cap its leaking oil well, BP actually MADE MONEY on the Gulf oil spill because all their expenses are tax deductible, both in the US and the UK. Both economies are hurting and will be hurt further by lost tax revenues PLUS the US is spending a large amount of OUR tax money in aid to people who are being affected by it. You could almost call it a conspiracy.

In the July 13th edition of the Financial Times, Ed Crooks reports that BP will probably pay about 10 billion LESS in taxes over the next 4 years, which is about one fourth of their usual combined tax payments to the US and the UK. The only oil spill costs that are NOT tax-deductible would be future fines imposed by the US.

When it comes to the flu, we want to be prepared, but we can be OVER prepared, as this year's Swine Flu season revealed, since huge stocks of flu vaccine and tamiflu were unused. It turns out that something sinister was going on: Key scientists behind WHO'S advice to stockpile flu drugs in case of a pandemic had financial ties with the companies that make them.

There's a reason WHY we amazed a huge stockpile of Swine flu vaccine during a week flu season: Every autumn, the flu season descends upon us. Every spring, just as predictably, the season comes to a close. Do existing strains of flu virus die off each spring, only to be replaced each fall by new founding strains from other parts of the world, or does a "hidden chain of sickness" persist over the summer, hiding until it can seed the next season's epidemic?

A genetic analysis reveals that in the United States, not all strains of influenza die off at the end of winter. Some move southward to South America, and some migrate even farther. In other words, rather than dying off at the end of our flu season, many strains of flu virus simply move on to more favorable environments.

Researcher Trevor Bedford says, "We found that although China and Southeast Asia play the largest role in the influenza A migration network, temperate regions---particularly the USA---also make important contributions."

How will this help fight the flu? The new knowledge that influenza frequently migrates out of the US argues for caution in using antivirals, which can promote development of drug-resistant strains. If, as previously thought, those strains died out at the end of the season, they would not be a problem, but their newly-discovered ability to survive and circulate means resistant strains can spread from the US throughout the world. On the flip side, the finding also means that vaccination programs outside of China and Southeast Asia can be effective in curbing influenza's spread to our shores.

Bedford says, "By doing this kind of research, we get a clearer idea of where in the world flu is actually coming from. We know that it's mostly Southeast Asia, but now we see that it can come out of temperate regions as well, so our surveillance needs to become more global."

And if you suspect that getting your Swine Flu vaccine was a waste of time, Homeland Security doesn't agree with you. Researchers have determined people who were vaccinated against the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus may also be protected against the lethal 1918 Spanish influenza virus, which killed more than 50 million people worldwide. Anti-terrorism agents have long been concerned that a jihadist organization might use the Spanish Flu virus as a weapon.

Microbiologist Adolfo Garcia-Sastre says, "While the reconstruction of the formerly extinct Spanish influenza virus was important in helping study other pandemic viruses, it raised some concerns about an accidental lab release or its use as a bioterrorist agent. Our research shows that the 2009 H1N1 influenza vaccine protects against the Spanish influenza virus, an important breakthrough in preventing another devastating pandemic like 1918. Considering the millions of people who have already been vaccinated against 2009 H1N1 influenza, cross-protection against the 1918 influenza virus may be widespread."

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Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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