Swine flu kept the world in suspense for almost a year. A massive vaccination campaign was mounted to put a stop to the anticipated pandemic. But, as it turned out, it was a relatively harmless strain of the flu virus. How, and why, did the world overreact? A reconstruction.

By SPIEGEL staff

At first things did not look good for Edgar. The five-year-old boy had a high fever. He’d lost his appetite, his throat was burning and his entire body ached.

The people in the Mexican village of La Gloria were quick to blame the pigs. They had long been convinced that the animals were a curse. In the nearby town of Perote, half a million hogs were being fattened for slaughter. The wind carried the stench through the narrow streets of the surrounding villages. No one was very surprised when Edgar Hernandez fell ill.

But then, after only four days, the boy recovered. His illness disappeared as quickly as it had started. It turned out to be nothing more than the flu, and the people of La Gloria soon forgot about it.

Continue reading The Swine Flu Panic of 2009

The stock of Baxter International, maker of the swine flu vaccine, is down 25% since April, with lower earnings reports, an FDA mandated recall and a potential litigation liabilities.