Saturday, September 26, 2009


Arguably one of the biggest hoaxes of the 21st century, the con starts from the name itself. ”Swine" flu has a very mild effect on pigs and they’re generally back to top grunting condition in 5-6 days. It should probably be renamed as swine-origin flu and thereby spare the innocent cob rollers all the ill publicity. The virus is actually a cocktail of human, bird and swine strains of the virus.

The IPL is over; cinema has sunk to an all time low in terms of standards, so swine flu seems to be the media’s newest muse. What is intriguing is that many diseases which might not have the same glam quotient as swine flu (Aishwariya Rai Bachchan was a suspected case !) are being grossly neglected. In 2008 alone, there were 15 lakh malaria patients in India - more than all the swine flu cases in the world. There were 8 lakh TB patients in 2008 and about 1000 TB related deaths in one day! 50 million people across the country have some kind of infectious disease.

Out of all the data the death stats are the MOST misleading , because 95% of the victims had other life threatening diseases and about the other 5% , well they were just plain unlucky ( like all the other healthy people who die of seasonal flu every year ). An example is the last victim of swine flu in Chennai, a 45 yr old man who had bronchial asthma as well as a history of sever tuberculosis. Moreover people with swine flu say that it is less severe and certainly briefer than a bad cold! This was confirmed by “swine flu” (since he was the first 1st patient of swine flu in the institute, he was named swine flu!) who looked as fit as ever on the basketball court.

The swine flu is really something C-TIDES should learn from. Everyone is cashing in on the flu revolution. Leading the brigade is the Media, especially the Red Tops, with scaremongering headlines aimed to terrify the public.

The BIG DADDY of them all is ROCHE, the producers of tamiflu, the only known treatment of swine flu. But the treatment is highly ineffective and they admit that it has various side effects including very severe skin disorders. Inappropriate and unnecessary use could lead to much more harm than good. As of now tamiflu is not available for retail sale. The govt buys 10 tablets for Rs 270 , but in the black market 10 tablets sell for as much as 10000 bucks !

Nevertheless, the best example of exploitation of human psyche is probably the the introduction of designer masks! Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana have launched their range of swine flu masks which is obviously insanely priced. These masks are aimed primarily at the af(flu)ent.

Closer to home, the Insti has taken ample precautions such as banning all cold items. Also, the round of Swine Flu tests that were conducted covered all the hostels. We advise our readers to follow a few simple precautions such as washing hands before eating, avoid crowded places warm saline gargle etc.

For more insti specific information we had interviewed the CMO(Chief Medical Officer). Her valuable time gave us the following conversation -

TFE: What are the steps taken by the institute hospital to curb the onslaught of swine flu?

CMO: The whole swine flu affair started in August. First of all the major step was to screen all hostels. Each and every

Student was examined thoroughly by a team of qualified doctors. The suspected cases were identified viz. students with flu like symptoms, and those who had cold and cough were given medicines on the spot. They were also informed about the precautions they should take. The cases which had high probability of being H1N1 +ve were admitted in the hospital right away and examined. Some of the cough and cold patients were advised Room Quarantine. Special permission was sought from CCW to provide these students with food in their rooms. These steps were taken keeping in mind the highly contagious nature of the disease

TFE: What is the official census of swine flu cases in the institute? What was the severity of the infection?

CMO: The number of swine flu cases in the institute as per 24th September is 12. They were treated in the Infectious Disease Hospital, Tondiarpet. All of them have fully recovered, and there were no complications with any of the patients.

TFE: A month ago we could feel the panic that swine flu created, but all that seems a distant past today. Is the real picture really as rosy as it seems?

CMO: The scenario is still the same, only the hype seems to be dying out. Swine flu is very much here and the contamination is still going on. Even in the institute if another check was to be conducted now, some +ve cases would definitely be identified.

TFE: The first image that swine flu brings to the mind is people roaming around wearing masks. Our readers would like to know more about them.

CMO: The swine patients in the institute hospital are provided with triple layer masks, PFR 95, or more commonly known as N95. They provide 95% protection against swine flu virus. But one thing to be kept in mind is that NO masks are washable. They have to be disposed off after a single use. If they are not properly disposed they could spread the virus instead of stopping it.

In the present of scenario there is no burning need of masks as most of us would have come in contact with the virus and hence have developed a first line of immunity. Therefore the protection that low end masks provide is superfluous. Moreover these masks are effective when the patients themselves wear the masks. I would personally advise the students to carry a mask with them, especially when they are going to crowded places, closed rooms, or using public transport. In class if a person near you has cough or cold you can just slip on a mask for extra protection.

1.The Times of India online archive 19th September 2009. (

2. Dan Roberts 19th September 2009 (Award-winning journalist, author and broadcaster) (

3. Roche official website 19th September 2009 (

4. Dr. Sabitha Selvam , Chief Medical Officer , Institute Hospital, interviewed on 24th September 2009