H1N1

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The Pandemic is Over | 

No more pandemic

Flickr, by Sir Sabbhat

Relax, no need to pandemic

The World Health Organization has declared the H1N1 “swine flu” flu pandemic (the one you forgot was happening) as officially over.

So what did we learn from this episode? Did we just luck out, as WHO officials say?

Or was it alarmist? Some critics even said the WHO’s refusal to stand down from their pandemic alert level — once it appeared to be milder than expected — was prompted by the desire to appease the drug makers who had responded to the alert by producing massive amounts of drugs and vaccines.

That seems a bit too conspiratorial. But it’s clear the world community needs to come up with a better way to respond to the unpredictable threat of pandemic flu — beginning with a clear definition of what is, and is not, a pandemic.

When Pig Flu Flew | 

Once again, critics are claiming public health experts last year hyped the potential threat of a uniquely piggish version of the influenza virus – the H1N1 virus, or so-called swine flu. This time, however, some of the critics add that the hype was done to benefit the drug industry.

The World Health Organization and other leading health authorities strongly reject the criticism, saying they acted prudently given the risk of a deadly pandemic such as the world experienced in 1918.

The truth is likely somewhere in between. Continue reading