Scientists could end flu pandemic alert: WHO

Scientists advising the World Health Organisation on Tuesday held a meeting to give their latest assessment of swine flu, in a move that could end the pandemic alert, a WHO spokesman said.

The UN health agency said the result of the confidential meeting would be announced on Wednesday.

Speaking shortly before the teleconference began, WHO spokesman Gregory Haertl said the scientists would be "reviewing the epidemiological situation around the world" and that a "recommendation or announcement one way or the other" would be made.

Asked if the emergency committee of scientists could recommend an end to the pandemic declared by the UN health agency nearly a year ago, Haertl said: "They could."

"The two most likely outcomes are either the status quo or post-pandemic," he told journalists.

WHO Director General Margaret Chan has closely followed the advice of the 15-member emergency committee headed by Australian infectious diseases expert John Mackenzie since swine flu was first uncovered in April 2009.

It played a crucial role in recommending an international emergency over the new virus and scaling up different stages of alert, including the declaration of a pandemic on June 11, 2009.

The committee declined to wind down the pandemic alert at its last meeting in February after the disease appeared to wane in North America and Europe.

Mackenzie said in April that he was waiting to see how A(H1N1) influenza progressed in the southern hemisphere's traditional autumn and winter flu seasons, amid predictions of a second wave.

Last Friday, the WHO's weekly pandemic assessment noted that there was "little evidence of pandemic influenza activity in the temperate zone of the southern hemisphere," except for parts of Chile.

Haertl told journalists: "Examining what's happening, or has not yet happened, in the southern hemisphere yet will probably be key to their discussions this afternoon (Tuesday)."

A(H1N1) influenza has killed more than 18,114 people since the virus was uncovered in Mexico and the United States last year, according to WHO data.

It spread swiftly worldwide, prompting the agency to declare a pandemic more than two months later, and has affected some 214 countries and territories.

But fears about the severity of swine flu, which sparked a rush for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of specially developed vaccines and a flurry of special public health precautions, petered out in the latter stages of 2009.

The UN health agency has responded to criticism of the international alert by setting up an independent committee of experts this year to review the handling of the swine flu pandemic.

The review panel is due to issue its conclusions by the beginning of next year.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

    £22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

    Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

    £14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

    Day In a Page

    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones