Head of WHO Pushes Back at Critics

Monday, May 4, 2009

Swine Flu Anatomy of Epidemic

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) pushed back at critics who have accused it of over-reacting to the H1N1 swine flu epidemic warning it may return “with a vengeance” in the months ahead.

In her first extensive media interview since alerting the world to a potential flu pandemic nine days ago, Dr. Margaret Chan, the agency’s director-general, told the Financial Times that the end of the flu season in the northern hemisphere meant an initial outbreak could be milder but then a second wave more lethal, as happened in 1918.

In 1918, the first wave — or spike of influenza deaths was mild. But as winter approached, a second, far more lethal wave of flu illnesses occurred resulting in more than 50 million deaths world-wide.

Fresh data from Mexico suggested the impact of the flu could be less than initially thought. The Mexican government, which had already scaled back its original estimate of 176 deaths, said 19 of the suspected 100 deaths from the H1N1 virus had been confirmed.

But Ms. Chan warned that an apparent decline in mortality rates outside and within Mexico did not mean the pandemic was ending.

“We hope the virus fizzles out, because if it doesn’t we are heading for a big outbreak.” But she said: “I’m not predicting the pandemic will blow up, but if I miss it and we don’t prepare, I fail. I’d rather over-prepare than not prepare.”

This entry was posted in Epidemics, International News, News, Public Health, Public Safety, Swine Flu and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Head of WHO Pushes Back at Critics

  1. bradfrmphnx says:

    I’d say Ms. Chan has it right. Better to be prepared. And this isn’t over yet. We are very lucky so far. Let’s hope it stays that way for all of our sakes.

  2. feminazi says:

    Whether the swine flu turns out to fizzle or becomes the next 1918 flu, we need to be prepared and have a safe vaccine. The world is more crowded today than ever and we are a highly mobile society. Imagine if the various agencies had stuck their heads in the sand and done nothing?

  3. Fran says:

    I agree. We don’t need more FEMA-like delayed reactions. Other conversations revealed the epicenter most likely had drinking water contamination, (ground zero by the massive pig farm) combined with the virus, that could have been the lethal combination to make it more deadly.
    Learning from history & being prepared for a 2nd wave in the fall, is an excellent idea.

  4. Joe in Colorado says:

    The media is definitely dialing back their coverage of the swine flu outbreak and some like CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Ghupta, seem to want to equivocate the virus with regular, season influenza. I am not a doctor but I can’t figure out why the so-called experts who were so worried about the outbreak a week ago, now want to pooh-pooh it away? Aren’t doctors supposed to look out for their patients?

  5. retahyajyajav says:

    Public health requires action.

    The WHO, if anything, was slow to react and should have moved quicker to raise the threat level to Phase 5 before the virus went global.

  6. VicoDANIEL says:

    Protecting the country and the American people is the number one priority of the president regardless of party affiliation.

    If this means closing either or both borders, then so be it and the chirping from the PC crowd can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.

    Maybe we need a Constitutional amendment to codify the steps leading up to such a closure and then the president would have to abide by the law? All I know is, the papers in Mexico City started reporting swine flu outbreaks as early as April 16th and not April 28th — as the American media reported.

    Had the border been closed around April 16th, I have to wonder if the outbreak would’ve been contained and not made it to American cities and towns? I am not a tinfoil hat wearer. I am not a conservative either. But, I believe we have the right to secure our borders especially, when there is a public health matter unfolding.


  7. libhomo says:

    Every few days, the apparent outlook changes dramatically. We just don’t know what is going to happen next, but the media keep giving us “answers.”

  8. Conejo1982 says:

    This is what we do know: the Mexican economy is being battered by the recession and by the swine flu epidemic.

    Resorts like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo san Lucas, should be jammed with tourists this time of year and instead of crowded beaches, full flights and booked hotels, the aforementioned destinations are largely abandoned. Even the drug trade is off as the cartels are afraid to set foot in the capital.

    If you don’t think the news and information we are getting from Mexico isn’t influenced by the economics, think again.

  9. Mauigirl says:

    I’d read the same thing about the initial bout possibly being mild, followed by a more lethal bout the next season. Hopefully by then we’ll have a vaccine that will protect us.

  10. DMason says:

    It’s the next wave I am worried about. If it hits at the sametime as the usual flu we get from Asian in the winter, we could have a dual flu season and this could prove deadly. What we need is a safe and effective vaccine.

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