WHO: Swine Flu Pandemic Is Over
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The swine flu pandemic is over, according to the World Health Organization. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan says the world is now moving into the “post-pandemic” phase.
Chan told reporters on Tuesday that the pandemic has “largely run its course.”
Last week WHO said at least 18,449 people had died worldwide since the outbreak began in April 2009.
Local spikes in flu deaths, such as seen recently in India, are likely due to better surveillance, said Prof. Angus Nicoll, flu program coordinator at the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control.
Nevertheless, health officials around the world should prepare for a new type of seasonal flu to appear in the near future that will combine elements of the pandemic A(H1N1) strain, and older A(H3N2) strain and several lesser strains, said Nicoll.
“It looks sort of middle of the road at the moment,” Nicoll said.
Nicoll noted that high-risk groups such as pregnant women should continue to get vaccinated because swine flu has been shown to pose a particular risk to them.
Health authorities in Britain shut down their pandemic flu hotline in February and canceled vaccine orders by a third back in April as it became clear the pandemic strain would be less dangerous than feared. Worst-case scenarios had predicted up to 65,000 deaths in Britain. In the end there were 457 confirmed deaths from swine flu.
In Germany, authorities are meeting later this week to discuss who is going to pick up the bill for the 34 million doses of vaccines that were ordered and mostly not used.
(Copyright 2010 WWJ Radio. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report)