ABC's Z. Byron Wolf Reports: Texas Congressman Ron Paul, looking at the precautions and reactions relating to the swine flu outbreak in Mexico, the US and other countries, has a simple message: Calm down, everybody.
In a video recorded in his Capitol Hill office and posted on his Web site, Paul says the whole thing reminds him of 1976, his first year in the House, when he was one of two Congressmen, both doctors, to oppose a government flu shot program at the time.
"Back then there was a panic and they said it was going to sweep the nation and they rapidly came up with some flu shotsand the government was going to inoculate everybody and save the world from this disaster," Paul said, arguing he was vindicated in casting his vote against inoculation.
"But the flu came. The flu went. And one person died. Except for those individuals who died from getting the flu vaccine and over 25 people died from just getting the vaccine and many got ill from it until finally they had to suspend the program. And here we are once again, the swine flu coming up and everybody is panicking."
Read more about the 1976 swine flu fiasco here.
Paul said he is not trying to downplay the seriousness of swine flu, especially to the people who have died in Mexico. But Paul argued that "we have had no deaths yet in this country" and argued that few in the United States have even been hospitalized with the swine flu "and yet it's practically like we have been attacked by nuclear weapons," said Paul in the video. There have been more diagnosed cases in New York since he recorded his message.
But the former presidential candidate (unsuccessful as a Republican in 2008 and a Libertarian in 1988) and OB-Gyn has a lot of problems with U.S. medical policy.
"How did the Department of Homeland Security get into the medical business?" he asked of the department's involvement in the federal reaction to the flu. "It is just totally out of control."
Seeking perspective, Paul said there were 13,000 cases of tuberculosis and more than 600 died from the disease last year, more by far than are currently affected by the swine flu, though the illness is moving rapidly.
"I hate to even bring this up," he said of the tuberculosis numbers with a tinge of sarcasm, "or maybe tomorrow they are going to quarantine everybody in the whole world from coming into this country to watch out for tuberculosis."
Here is the CDC fact sheet on tuberculosis, which confirms Paul's numbers.
But no one is arguing that tuberculosis is a pandemic or preparing to suddenly shoot across continents. Everyone from the CDC to the WHO is worried about that happening with swine flu
"All I'm asking is that people step back and think for a minute rather than panicking and taking advantage of things like this," Paul said. "This is what happens when there are economic problems or medical problems. People who love the government take advantage of things like this."
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