WHO to Consider Whether H1N1 Pandemic Has PeakedFebruary 11, 2010 — An emergency advisory committee of the World Health Organization (WHO), meeting later this month, will consider making it official what WHO has indicated for weeks — that the H1N1 influenza pandemic, although still active in many parts of the world, is winding down.
However, at a press conference today, Keiji Fukuda, MD, MPH, the special pandemic influenza advisor to the WHO director-general, cited a recent outbreak of H1N1 infection in Senegal as proof that the pandemic has not run its full course.
"We are seeing an overall declining pattern in the Northern Hemisphere, but it's very clear the virus hasn't disappeared," said Dr. Fukuda. "It's continuing to cause disease and death in many parts of the world."
Dr. Fukuda said WHO has received its first reports of communitywide infection in Senegal, where there have been 42 mild cases of pandemic H1N1 influenza, but no deaths. "Western Africa is one part of the world where we haven't seen much activity," he said. "We may be seeing a general decline, but in some places community outbreaks can [still] be expected."
The emergency committee, formed under the International Health Regulations approved by WHO member states, will review epidemiologic data and then recommend whether WHO should classify the pandemic as having entered a postpeak, or transition, phase, said Dr. Fukuda.
The postpeak phase is part of a pandemic classification system used by WHO that immediately follows phase 6, which marks a full-blown pandemic. In a postpeak period, according to WHO's Web site, "pandemic activity appears to be decreasing; however, it is uncertain if additional waves will occur and countries will need to be prepared for a second wave." Official designation of the postpeak period will help national public health authorities plan for the future, Dr. Fukuda said.
The final stage in the WHO spectrum is the postpandemic period. Here, influenza disease activity returns to "levels normally seen for seasonal influenza."
Dr. Fukuda said he expects the emergency committee to meet during the last week of February, although an exact date has not yet been set.
H1N1 Could Be Component of Next Seasonal Flu Vaccine for Northern Hemisphere
Dr. Fukuda also announced that WHO will convene its annual meeting of experts next week to begin deliberating on which influenza virus strains should make up the 2010-2011 seasonal influenza vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere. These experts hail from national public health agencies and laboratories that make up the WHO Global Influenza Surveillance Network. Dr. Fukuda said that this group will likely consider including the pandemic H1N1 virus as 1 of the 3 strains normally constituting the seasonal influenza vaccine.
"I don't want to second-guess what the expert advisors will recommend," said Dr. Fukuda. "But it's fair to point out that the current pandemic virus is by far the most common virus that's been isolated around the world. It's a good bet we'll see it around for quite a while."
Each September, WHO convenes the same experts to recommend the composition of the next year's seasonal influenza vaccine for the southern hemisphere. At their meeting in September 2009, they included a strain of the pandemic H1N1 virus — specifically, an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus — as 1 of the 3 strains for 2010. The other recommended strains were an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus and a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.
Another WHO advisory group, the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization, recommended last year that nations ordering vaccines should have the option of either including a pandemic H1N1 virus in the traditional trivalent vaccine for seasonal influenza or making it a separate monovalent vaccine, with the other 2 recommended strains in a second vaccine.
WHO has no choice but to change their plans - they were going to continue with the " pandemic" farce for another year. So where does MARTIAL LAW FIT IN? If there is no pandemic, there is no 'legal' justificat
ion for military control of 193 nations by the UN. It leaves them in a serious quandary, doesn't it? I hope lawyers, specially international lawyers, will pay much attention to this small detail.
Should we call this the pope's SIXTH PLAGUE?? Not so fast. I am sure they will try to pull wool over people's eyes, and find all sorts of justifications for continuing their international control of the world. Is THAT why NATO thinks of going global now? It seems the UN has JUST "LOST ITS TEETH"! So will NATO now take its place?
NATO should be global security forum: RasmussenBy David Brunnstrom and Mark Trevelyan
Sunday, February 7, 2010; 7:26 AM
MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - NATO should develop closer ties with China, India, Pakistan and Russia and become the forum for consultation on global security, the alliance's head said on Sunday, but a senior Russian politician reacted with skepticism.
The four countries all had interests in stability in Afghanistan and could do more to help develop and assist the country, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
"What would be the harm if countries such as China, India, Pakistan and others were to develop closer ties with NATO? I think, in fact, there would only be a benefit, in terms of trust, confidence and cooperation," he said.
NATO should become the global forum with other nations on a host of security issues extending from terrorism, cyber attacks, nuclear proliferation, piracy, climate change and competition for natural resources as well as Afghanistan, he said.
"NATO can be the place where views, concerns and best practices on security are shared by NATO's global partners. And where ... we might work out how to tackle global challenges together," he told a conference in Munich ahead of discussion of a new NATO Strategic Concept due to be approved in November.
Rasmussen said NATO was already working with Pakistan, and other countries stood to gain from a stable Afghanistan. "India has a stake in Afghan stability. China too. And both could help further develop and rebuild Afghanistan. The same goes for Russia," he said.
A senior Russian politician reacted skeptically to the proposals, saying NATO first had to think globally, and complained that Russia had not been involved in the process.
"I believe the problem of NATO today is that NATO develops in reverse order -- it tries to act globally more and more but continues to think locally," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the Russian Duma's International Affairs Committee.
"As soon as NATO starts to reach beyond its borders this is no longer just an internal matter for NATO," said Kosachev, who was also speaking the annual Munich Security Conference.
Moscow still views NATO, its Cold War adversary, with deep suspicion. Ties were severely strained by the 2008 war between Russia and Georgia and by U.S.-backed plans to invite more former Soviet states to join the alliance.
Kosachev accused the alliance of provoking the Georgia-Russia conflict by promising Tbilisi eventual membership and of failing to tackle the drugs problem in Afghanistan. He urged NATO to show it was serious by having proper discussions with Russia about Moscow's security concerns and proposals.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, chair of a group of experts drawing up the Strategic Concept, and Canadian Defense Minister Peter MacKay backed Rasmussen's vision of NATO as the preeminent forum for global security discussion.
"I think we are talking about how we can have some coordinating mechanism for all the various organizations that exist in the world," Albright said, adding that the question was "which organization can make the biggest difference."
"We are talking here about a group of nations consulting, formally or informally, on security. Nothing more.