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?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

    SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant - Global Leader - FTSE 250

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + competitive: SThree: As an Associate Recruitment C...

    Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Representative

    £22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run school photogra...

    Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - OTE £42,000

    £28000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a leading s...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map