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Mike Davis

The Mexican swine flu, a genetic chimera probably conceived in the faecal mire of an industrial pigsty, suddenly threatens to give the whole world a fever.


Entirely the wrong way around, completely.

We worry about small scale units, where birds, pigs and humans live cheek by jowl. For the thing we are worried about is such a disease crossing from being infectious amongst solely, say, pigs, to being  infectious directly amongst humans.

This is why these outbreaks occur from, say, Hong Kong in the 1960s, when it was a verty poor place indeed. Or SARs which came from Vietnam, again, a poor place with many small hold farms. And now Mexico.

The one thing that we really do know about these mutations of flu is that they are not part of industrial farming. They\’re the result of not industrial farming actually.

So The Guardian\’s lead article on hte subject is entirely and completely wrong in it\’s first sentence.

Wondrous, eh?

9 thoughts on “Mike Davis”

  1. It’s also bollocks to say it was conceived in fecal mire. It was almost certainly conceived inside a human who was simultaneously infected by another flu strain resulting in a mutated new virus.

    Typical ignorant Guardianistas (Ben Goldacre excepted).

  2. Ben Goldacre is such a good a journalist (knows his stuff, cites sources, writes well), that he really deserves to be thought of as a blogger.

  3. I knew it was crap when I saw his weaseling ‘probably. But hey – any chance to bash the engines of human betterment, no matter how spurious. It’s the Guardian way

  4. Not really. Unfortunately lots of people pontificating about influenza virus know bugger all about the genetics of the virus and nothing about the unusual structure of its DNA. They might call it H1N1 but know bugger all about haemaglutinin or neuraminidase. So what they don’t know is how this newish strain occurred nor do they realise that many human ‘flu viruses are H1N1 and so a fair few of us will have some resistance. Not a lot, but some. Also far too many people self diagnose ‘flu when they have a very bad cold, often caused by a dual infection with adenovirus. They also know very little of the clinical progress of this disease in humans of different ages. Bog standard ‘flu has a mortality of 1-5%.

    So never be surprised by general ignorance nor his troops, which number in the milions. A few work for the Grauniad, obviously.

  5. Late to the party on this one, but this may be of interest. I think the idea that this virus originated in non-intensive methods is highly unlikely given the genetic evidence in the article.

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