Timely Pandemic Alert of Swine Flu Has Helped Reduce Damage : WHO

by Savitha C Muppala on  May 12, 2009 at 12:52 PM Drug News   - G J E 4
The World Health Organisation has no regrets after issuing a pandemic alert status for swine flu without which the situation could have been worse.
 Timely Pandemic Alert of Swine Flu Has Helped Reduce Damage : WHO
Timely Pandemic Alert of Swine Flu Has Helped Reduce Damage : WHO

"If countries had not been thinking about what to do in this kind of situation, the fact is we would have had much more confusion," said acting WHO Assistant Director-General Keiji Fukuda.

"In many ways, the severity would have been greater," he added.

"It's often hard to see what you would have prevented by doing so much work... if things turn out that few people die, it would be the best of all possible outcomes," Fukuda told journalists.

The WHO raised its pandemic alert to five on a scale of six two weeks ago, signalling that a pandemic was "imminent" after Mexico and the United States showed sustained local transmission of the influenza A(H1N1) virus.

The alert prompted countries to take specific measures, including looking at distribution of anti-virals or issuing travel advice at airports.

Most of the 4,694 confirmed cases so far have involved relatively mild symptoms and the virus has proved to be treatable with anti-viral drugs such as Tamiflu so far, prompting questions on whether the WHO had acted too rashly.

At least 53 people have died, according to the latest data from the UN health agency.

Fukuda stressed that the situation was continuously "evolving."

While it is likely that the WHO could hike the alert level to six -- signalling that the world is in a pandemic -- it was equally likely that the situation could stabilise and even lead to a lowering of the alert, he said

Fukuda reiterated that the agency was holding its alert level at five, as there was no evidence of sustained community transmissions outside the Americas, a criteria that is used to determine whether to raise the alert.

Explaining the concept of sustained community transmissions, he said it is when "you begin to see people who are getting infected... and it's not clear where they are getting infected from."

Source: AFP

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