Swine flu pandemic over

The swine flu pandemic is over, more
than a year after it was declared.

World Health Organisation (WHO)
Director-General Margaret Chan said the organization’s emergency committee of
top flu experts advised her that the pandemic had “largely run its
course” and the world is no longer in phase six — the highest influenza
alert level

 A report by the French
Senate published last month criticized WHO’s handling of the pandemic, in
particularly what it described as an “overestimation” of the risk and
insufficient transparency about links between WHO experts and the pharmaceutical
industry.

In January, polls showed 70 per cent
of French population thought the government overestimated the danger of the
virus H1N1 and ordered too many doses of vaccine. The government had purchased
94 million doses of vaccine, but cancelled half of the initial order at the
start of the year.

WHO chief Chan insisted that
declaring swine flu a pandemic had been the right decision, based on the
internationally agreed rules that existed at the time.

“We have been aided by pure
good luck,” she said, adding that if the virus had mutated then the death
rate could have been much higher.

But she acknowledged that changes
may be made to the way WHO defines pandemics. “We need to review the
phases, including the severity,” she said.

At least 18,449 people have died
worldwide since the outbreak began in April 2009. WHO said last week that the
true figure is likely to be higher, but the organisation’s flu chief, Keiji Fukuda, said a final number won’t be known for some
months.

Still, lab-confirmed deaths
globally increased by only about 300 in the past two months.

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