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Duesberg on the coming bird flu global catastrophe: don’t bet on it

Jay Leno anyway has bright idea on how to ward it off

Asked to give his view of the current bird flu global megathreat, Peter Duesberg finally found time to write the following email, which he copied to a group of insiders, including the editor of Harper’s, Roger D. Hodge, Lia Miller, the New York Times business media reporter, and Dean Esmay, who put it up on his blog, Dean Esmay blog, where it has attracted a number of comments, ranging from sensible to demented.



Thank you, Dean.

Peter Duesbergs words are most welcome indeed if only to point to the madness, covertness and greed within the operations of the CDC and the moneyed interest groups in the health care and big pharma industries.

3.15.2006 1:11am



Duesberg nails it. Perhaps we need to rename the discipline; change it from “Public Health” to “Political Health” to better reflect its role and function within society. The public hype and declaratory posturing about “getting ready” has been a bit bizarre. The opening point made by Duesberg may be the most important thing we have going for us; though I’m not sure the relative terrain is quite as good as we might hope given the national problem of inflammatory diseases that currently plague our population.

I’m grateful H5N1 remains essentially a disease of birds, but I am still concerned we could yet see the recombinant we fear. Should that occur, it will be entirely it’s own thing, and it will hit human populations in exactly the way Duesberg points out that H5N1 has not. I wouldn’t hold out much hope for vaccines or antiviral drugs in the first few months of such an outbreak. It would sweep through vulnerable populations with considerable finality.

3.15.2006 1:29am


matoko-chan (mail) (www):


another reason we won’t die of bird flu is that we aren’t kept penned up like chickens so we can spread it.

I totally agree with Duesberg.

My take on it, Waiting for Captain Trips

we need to be researching mutagenic drugs and RNAi’s that would work on all RNA viruses, even man-made ones.

like in bioterrorism.

3.15.2006 1:47am


Mike (mail):

He echoed my thoughts regarding the susceptibility of the populations of 1918 to a flu, especially the conditions of military life and how vast numbers of, literally, herded humans were moved from continent to contintent.

Anyone ever see photos of military transports? RMS Olympic was carrying about 5,000 a trip, when as a liner she was designed to carry about 2,000. Anyone else ever hear of a “forty-or-eight”?

Those conditions just aren’t present, especially in the developed world where proper sanitation is done and potable water is in abundance.

3.15.2006 7:31am


sherard (mail):

This is just common sense. As, frankly, is the theory that HIV does not caue AIDS. At any snapshot in time, anything is theoretically possible, but as time passes, when the expected outcome does not come to pass, the theory becomes less and less viable.

The funniest thing is the disclaimer in every article about bird flu – “health officials fear the flu may mutate and become contagious between humans”. Yeah, and until then it’s a complete nothing. And when the press has been saying that same thing for MONTHS, eventually you have to start wondering if it’s even remotely likely.

3.15.2006 8:04am


Scott Kirwin (mail) (www):

Sorry, but I don’t buy Duesberg’s argument:

The reason why the Flu was so successful in 1918 was primarily the “terrain”, namely the millions of immuno-deficient hosts and hostesses starved and stressed by 4 years of war.

If this was true, one could assume that the most “immuno-deficient hosts” would be the elderly and the young. However the 1918 strain did not target them. Most of those who died from the disease were in their prime – a fact which terrified people at the time.

In addition the 1918 virus did not kill people directly: What killed them was the overreaction of their immune systems responding to the virus. If Duesberg’s argument was true, then those with weakened immune systems should have better survived the disease.

Unless he believes that these immune compromised people acted as carriers of the disease who exposed those with healthy immune systems that then went into overdrive and killed them…

Clarification is needed methinks.

3.15.2006 9:09am


Eric R. Ashley (mail) (www):

Forty men, or eight horses.

3.15.2006 10:02am



Major cause of death during the 1918 pandemic was untreatable pneumonia.

3.15.2006 10:12am




The funniest thing is the disclaimer in every article about bird flu – “health officials fear the flu may mutate and become contagious between humans”. Yeah, and until then it’s a complete nothing.

duh. but the fear is not an irrational one. the flu virus is tricky enough to do this. perhaps one of the reasons it hasn’t happened yet is that thousands of dedicated people around the world are trying their best to respond to this “non-crisis” and keep it contained? duesberg’s dismissal of what the H5N1 has already caused is ludicrous. it has killed several people in china and tons of birds. it has not developed the ability to jump from human to human because it has not to date recombined with a human flu virus. that doesn’t mean it can’t happen, and regardless of the unlikelyhood of such an event i don’t think it’s beyond the pale for health workers to sound the alarm and by doing so reduce the likelyhood even further.

3.15.2006 10:13am



I agree about the “Political Health Service”.

Other “epidemics” they’ve been flogging for years are “handgun violence” and “domestic violence”.

3.15.2006 11:06am


Hank Barnes (mail):

Ask me if I’m worried that the sun will one day burn out.

I’m not — it’s too remote

Ask me if I’m worried that the one day a meteorite will one day strike the earth causing much harm.

I’m not — it’s too unlikely

Ask me if I’m worried that one day I will be struck down by a lightning.

I’m not — it’s too unlikely.

Ask me if I’m worried that a few Nigerian ostriches (or is it European geese?) have contracted flu-like symptoms, which will somehow mutate into a super-duper, new virus, that will be transported across continents by swarms of infected flocks of our avian brethren.

Well, NO, I’m not.

I’m sorry, it’s just bullsh%t. Wrapped in hype, surrounded by exaggeration, encased in fear-mongering, propelled by Chicken-Littles at the CDC, who enjoy scaring the populace and pharmaceutical executives who need new and exotic diseases in order to market and sell new and exotic test kits, vaccines and drugs. All the better if the massive research $$ is funded by the Gov’t, picked up by the taxpayers.

So, NO, I ain’t worried about no stupid bird flu!


3.15.2006 12:02pm


Mike (mail):

You got Eric. Forty men or eight horses per boxcar. Lovely. In those kind of crowded conditions, when the healthy men were breathing the air of the unhealthy, literally stacked on top of each other as they moved through military posts built from scratch to handle large numbers of men for only a few years, is it any wonder such an epidemic could sweep through them?

And is it any wonder in permanent cities with adequate sanitation and potable water there wasn’t quite the sweep?

3.15.2006 12:22pm


Mrs. du Toit (www):


One of the theories regarding the 1918 pandemic on “prime health” targets was that many of these men were at war in the 5 years previous.

The theory is that there was lighter strains of the flu that these guys weren’t around to get and it made them more vulnerable to the 1918 strain.

Add to that the fact that young people are generally more mobile (spreading the disease among themselves).

On the current strain, however, anything can happen. Even if WHO and the CDC are as incompetent as he suggests, that should make us more prepared than less–they can’t predict in the affirmative or the negative. Catastrophes can happen and being prepared isn’t being paranoid–it means you are less likely to appear in a news loop on FoxNews standing on your house looking like an idiot. So while I agree that there may be an irrational fear with respect to the Bird Flu, if that makes a few more thousand people have water and supplies on hand in an emergency, it will be better for them (and all of us) in the long run.

3.15.2006 1:00pm


Hank Barnes (mail):


Do y’all remember the hype over Y2K? True, I ain’t a computer geek, so I’m not exactly clear what the potential apocalyptical claims were (massive economic disruptions?) or whether they materialized (I’m pretty sure they didn’t).

My take then and now is that it was B.S.

We are experiencing a bizarre medical equivalent of Y2K — where medical authorities are hyping deadly “flu-variants” or other diseases that sound bad to the average Joe, but don’t do squat.

Liam Scheff has a great article with virologist, Dr. Stefan Lanka, who reminds those ‘fraidy cats among us:

In one litre of sea water, there are over 100 million viruses of various kinds very different from each other.

Dr. Lanka, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, notes that if we continue on the same path, the CDC might pass a law requiring us to wear full-body condoms, when we take a refreshing dip in the ocean.


3.15.2006 1:12pm



My expertise at predicting the failure of eminent catastrophic pandemic flu events increases in direct proportion to the coming of the end of the flu season. While life is uncertain, its polar opposite is certain.

3.15.2006 1:21pm



dear Dean, I’m really trying to write to Doc. Peter Duesberg and hoping for an answer for too long now…I wish why he could not reply to me EVER!!!

I started writing to him from the time my husband was helth and HIV positive…then I wrote to him so many times on his web site when My husband got sick…and I also wrote to him when My husband died asking for help and for some clear answer from his point of view also for my self!!!

I arrived to think that he does not want to reply…and that made me think …Why he says that the orthodoxis doctors does not want to answer to ANY question about HIV and AIDS that are not about what they believe, when he does the same???I mean I know that he should have so many eamil but I really thought that mine at that time were a little bit more Urgent…Christine also wrote me to write to him.

Now i’m wondering , by the time you are able to speak to him…can you plaese ask him why he does not reply to his email???

I’m sorry to ask you soemthing like that but I really want to write and ask him lots of things…if his problem isthe money i can also try to pay for his time…

Thank you for your help!!!

PS: Is his email the one that you find on his web site???


Take care

3.15.2006 5:34pm


Dean Esmay:

Yes, his email is public. Yes he is busy but he does answer most emails. It may be that your English is not so good… I know he reads six languages, perhaps you should try something other than English?

But I would note that Duesberg could only guess on what happened to your husband. We know that people die from immune failure, no one has denied this. We also know people have died from the medications used to treat HIV–no one denies this anymore either. There are people with catastrophic immune failure who are HIV-, and no one denies that (although few seem very interested in them or what happens to them).

3.15.2006 5:51pm


karishma (mail):

Prof. Duesberg’s reply made me think of another potential reason why there’s so much hype about an imminent flu pandemic.

People are just too well nourished these days, and thus have optimally maintained immune systems, for microbes to attack more than just the fringes of the ever growing human herd. That in fact is their historical share.

People most at risk of dying from the flu are those with weak immune systems – the young, the old, and those with diseases / treatments that weaken the immune system.

Since we are currently seeing a huge number of health-obsessed baby booners enter that ‘old’ category (age >65 is the std cutoff), they are naturally worried about anything that could disproportionately affect them. The fact that the rest of us would be far less affected is not much consolation, I guess…

3.15.2006 8:04pm


Mike (mail):

But karishma, the conditions that encourage epidemics are not present in the developed world, with adequate heat and sanitation and nutrition for the vast bulk of the population.* And that really is the kicker, as the easy access for a disease to besiege the human system is not there as it was for all human history, up until this century.

Outhouses were once standard, but are gone, except for those who camp in rustic campsites. As an example.

*Lack of nutritious food is not the problem now.

3.15.2006 8:24pm


Vic Stein (mail):

“People most at risk of dying from the flu are those with weak immune systems – the young, the old, and those with diseases / treatments that weaken the immune system.”

Of course! That’s why so many people with otherwise robust immune systems died in 1918: because they were secretly taking AZT!

If Duesberg is one thing, it’s consistent. Consistently narrow about how every single disease must work: all conforming to the same neat little box. From reading him, you’d think that there is such a thing as a universally “robust” immune system that is simply impregnable, making the contraction and spread of disease rare and impossible.

Fact is, the fact that the CDC is excitable (and, to be fair, a lot of the warnings they issued spurred people into actions that helped stop the spread of feared, but over-hyped disease) isn’t really a particularly relevant issue when looking at any individual pathogen and its potential for havoc. Still, I remain unconvinced that bird flu is any particular worry at the moment.

3.16.2006 5:13pm


Dean Esmay:

Vic: Did people with otherwise robust immune systems die of the 1918 flu? I’ve not seen evidence of that. Yes it was a lot of young people, but we had poorer nutrition, poorer sanitation, people in living conditions that would be considered uncivilized today, and we had medical practices that often didn’t make sense (like, doctors and nurses would wear medical masks with the noses exposed because they thought you couldn’t get infected through your sinuses–really).

And I don’t see anything to suggest that Duesberg believes there is such a thing as a universally “robust” immune system, merely the view that for an infectious microbe to ravage a population, probably that population has to have some immune problems already–poor nutrition, poor sanitation, crowded living conditions, and so on.

If you think that’s wrong, I’m curious: can you name an infectious epidemic that ravaged a huge percentage of the population that did not fit that description–i.e. poor sanitation, poor nutrition, crowded living conditions, etc.?

3.17.2006 4:18am



Dear Dean,


Only, stupid person,foolish,thick-headed, dumb, fool, idiot person LIKE YOU are can UNDERSTAND what I write and want to say!!!

Is MAYBE for that Reason that you were able to answer to my message???

I really am shokked about all the stupidity,nonsense, stupid remark that I read in your KIND Reply to my message!!!

I will NEVER let you offend myself or any one in my life.

You do not even KNOW WHO I’m, You do NOT KNOW WHAT I want and wanted to ask to Dot. Peter Duesberg, How could you!!!

For sure my English is not good, I know that…It’s not my language, are you able to WRITE AND SPEAK ITALIAN, FRENCH and Spanish Like ME???!!!

I really am very confused about people like you, I just want to tell you that you are RUDE, IMPOLITE, Bad Mannered, ILL-BRED.

I just asked you a suggestion to how comunicate with Dot Peter Duesberg.


…You are looking for intellingent people to speak with…but how intelligent are you giving these kind of reply to people that you DO NOT KNOW!!!

Maybe Dot. Peter Duesberg is not interested in what I have to ask to him…but He is and he will be always a perfect polite human been…

and this type of Class, quality is not something that you can BUY…reading all the books that you read!!!

Whatever…I’m just here spending too much time writing to YOU and it does not worth it!!!


3.17.2006 6:05pm


Dean Esmay:

You are taking offense at something you should not take offense at, Angel. I am being honest with you and making a sincere suggestion. And I do have some idea what you want to ask him since you have described it in the past.

I am sorry if you are offended, but, your English is sometimes hard to understand. Dr. Duesberg speaks 6 languages. You might try writing to him in French, which I am pretty sure he reads, and possibly he knows Italian but I’m not sure.

3.17.2006 10:23pm

The Duesberg flu comment is interesting for a number of reasons. In the first place, it appears he was a pioneer in the genetic analysis of the flu virus, so he speaks with some authority. Unfortunately, he doesn’t answer the $7 billion question, which is how likely it is that the virus will mutate into another version which will attack humans as lethally as the 1918 flu. Of course, no one knows this, and no one will as long as the WHO runs an exclusive data base on the topic.

Judging from what we have seen in the relatively few humans reportedly struck down so far by the non-mutated version, this will be because it generated the immune overreaction or cytokine storm in the lungs which causes you to suffocate from TNF (Tumor Necrosis Factor), and the description of the 1918 flu (fast death in 24 hours from “pneumonia”, which doesn’t normally act so quickly) suggests this is what happened then.

Duesberg doesn’t appear to be aware of this finding which is plentiful on PubMed as we have pointed out earlier, and instead simply accounts for the lethality of the 1918 flu by saying that it was the result of immunodeficiency from the starvation and stress of war, which as one commentator points out may not be good enough.

The reason why the Flu was so successful in 1918 was primarily the “terrain”, namely the millions of immuno-deficient hosts and hostesses starved and stressed by 4 years of war.

Secondarily, one can speculate that the 1918 flu strain may also have been a “new” recombinant to the 1918 population and thus more successful than a more established seasonal strain may have been. As I found in 1968, flu, unlike practically all other animal viruses, has multiple RNA segments, equivalent to multiple chromosomes and thus can readily form new recombinants – the reason why we have seasonal flus, but have measles, mumps, polio, pox etc. only once in a lifetime.

His third point is that the CDC does not have a good record predicting epidemics, and is unlikely to be any better at it with this one. What we need to know is how often the virus mutates in the lethal direction, and it seems clear that no one does. Apparently this variant has been around for eight years at least without turning infectious to humans, and flu hasn’t produced a lethal variant of this type since 1918, so presumably the chances are low and may be negligible. We need research to tell us what the chances are, if it can. Apparently with only one precedent in history, it cannot, though.

Thirdly, the odds that the Centers for Disease Control alias World Health Organization ever predicts an epidemic prior to its arrival are not good: They have predicted in past several years numerous epidemics or “pandemics” such as the flu, the hanta-virus, anthrax, the rotavirus, the Ebola virus, the West Nile virus, “mad cow” epidemic, the Sars-virus epidemic, an epi-pandemic of “random, eg. heterosexual non-drug user-AIDS” – but none of these ever materialized (see, Inventing the AIDS Virus, Regnery publishing, Washington DC, 1996). The last one that came close to an epidemic was polio in the 1950s and that was not predicted by American public health scientists.

Fourth, the currently hyped prospective Flu pandemic has long missed its chances. It has been hyped almost daily in the San Francisco Chronicle since November. But all that happened was a dead chicken in Nigeria, a hamster in Germany, two sick (dead?) kids in Turkey, a euthanized swan in Sweden, several dead or euthanized chicken in Iraq (Yes Iraq!!) etc. That is not the pattern of a potential killer microbe. All “new” killer viral or microbial epidemics of the past have spread exponentially within weeks to months and then declined exponentially owing to the induction of immunity or death of susceptible hosts – take Albert Camus’ “Plague” as a classical example.

The current Flu propaganda is thus a mix of ignorance and and self-interest and an exploitation of general ignorance by the CDC, WHO, the vaccine, pill and test-kit manufacturers of our universities and pharma companies, and of our “science” journalists, who need to fill their daily columns – and must sell their aging vaccine stocks before they decompose and their Tamiflu pills before the summer.

But despite hyping in dozens of microbial Godots – no Godot has come since polio. People are just too well nourished these days, and thus have optimally maintained immune systems, for microbes to attack more than just the fringes of the ever growing human herd. That in fact is their historical share. The 150 million+ Flu pandemics are hype for fund raising by the ever more costly science/health armies in search for real enemies. Their success is based on the invisible monsters of the microbial epidemics of the (earlier) times, when nutrition lacked vitamins, proteins and sanitation or was lacking all together – and on the never failing microbial and viral horror phantasies of our science writers, politicians and Hollywood producers.

Regards, Peter.

The idea that we are all well nourished these days and therefore immune to a 1918 type flu seems to be well founded. Flu travels around the world in normal circumstances and kills nearly 40,000 in the US annually, we are told. In fact, as Peter Doshi has shown, this figure is probably wildly exaggerated, possibly by one hundred times. If the flu variant which invades people retains the characteristics of H5N1 ie the same lethal TNG generating effect of the 1918 flu, it will presumably suffocate those with vitamin-poor nutrition, if Vitamin A levels really are the key that two studies so far have found (see earlier posts). But it won’t badly affect those with plenty of the vitamin in their nutrition, it seems clear, according to those studies.

Distributing extra doses of Vitamin A to the poorly defended would not be a Herculean task. There is an established aid program doing just that in many countries, rescuing the very young from a deficit of that vitamin which causes other ailments. This infrastructure is already in place in nearly a hundred countries.

So we agree wholeheartedly with Duesberg’ complacency in the face of this gigantic scare, on which so much is being spent to avoid what many are now saying will be a total economic and social shutdown lasting many weeks, unless half the bird population of the planet is executed in time.

Certainly the media are coming out of this one just as badly as they have in HIV?AIDS over two decades, exposed as entirely the slaves of ignorant scientists (ones who don’t even read their own literature) and their friendly aides, the scaremongering officials who play the public in exactly the way the other article in Harper’s this month points out (“Viral Marketing:The selling of the flu vaccine”, the one after the Farber article, where Peter Doshi deconstructs the blatantly self-promotional pr strategy of CDC officials from their own description).

How annoying it must be for the HIV?AIDS scare promoters to find that this year their thunder is being stolen by the Bird Flu crowd. Still, NIAID director Anthony Fauci must be thankful that his budget is still pumped up when it would otherwise have been deflated by the cutting of HIV?AIDS funds this time around.

The best suggestion for warding off bird flu we have heard so far (apart from our own recommendation that you run to the corner drugstore and buy some multi vitamin pills (see ALERT – Vitamin A is probably simple antidote to bird flu, mainstream literature shows and Bird flu flap continues needlessly. The antidote is Vitamin A, it’s clear) is Jay Leno’s, which is for the Statue of Liberty to be turned into a giant scarecrow.

One Response to “Duesberg on the coming bird flu global catastrophe: don’t bet on it”

  1. e.a.greenhalgh Says:

    Regarding the dangers of the bird flu mutating as the 1919 flu did please see my website the Gold 2006 section. Here is a discussion on a special genetic tag on the AIDS virus that if it interacts with the bird flu could TAG for DEATH 70% of mankind. Also discussed is WW1 and mutagens such as mustard gas. Flu is an evolutionary messenger and as such the environment controls and directs overpopulated species which have not responded to other natural controls,i.e., famine etc and have continued out of control . Dr.James Lovelock (GAIA theory ) has commented on my theory. Noam Chomsky said it may be of phenomenal importance to mankind. US Surgeon General has regretted my treatment. I have dealt with Dr.Duesberg in the 90s and he wasn’t brave enough to help me with my academic black listing . Can we avoid disaster? Yes. Will we? Given how badly I’ve beeen treated, and how slow we are to react (see Pfizer CEO McKinnell’s failure) I doubt it.Thank you. E.A.Greenhalgh

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