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H1N1 Declared Over; Experts Ponder Lessons: WHO and CDC lost Credibility on this one!

Discussion in 'Other Health News and Research' started by muffin, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    USA!
    Oh LOOK! Swine Flu was overplayed by WHO and the CDC - My! What a surprise! The super hyped Swine Flu didn't do what these organizations said it would do. The WHO was compromised by the Pharmas and the CDC, well, it's just looking for the next hyped virus, but forget those real viruses! Not for the CDC!! A deadly and contagious Retrovirus? Heck, the CDC don't do real viruses, they only do the fake, hyped ones. Crying wolf, CDC, again????

    I read somewhere that the CDC had something over 500 people working on Swine Flu. I also found a document that went back to 1977 (yes, 1977!) that showed that Congress was very worried about the CDC overspending on Swine Flu.

    I had hoped that Freiden would do some serious cleanup, including and especially CFIDS. But boy, does this poor guy have a massive job ahead of him.

    I knew that when the CDC told doctors and hospital back in August 2009 NOT to test (and confirm) Swine Flu that there was something terribly wrong going on. Don't test, confirm and report? That's because you do NOT want those numbers revealed. But the major media (2 of the 3 major TV channels) did their own analysis and found numbers of Swine Flu sick and dead so low it was mind-blowing. Alaska had a 1% Swine Flu rate. Most other illnesses were infections and not even viruses - and certainly NOT Swine Flu.

    Just one more smack in the face of WHO and the CDC's credibility. Pick the wrong horse and ride it all the way to the end...Way to go.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Katie Drummond Contributor - AOL

    (Aug. 10) -- More than a year after swine flu was declared a global pandemic, leading to a flurry of fast-tracked vaccine production, travel restrictions and public health advisories, the world has finally entered a "post-pandemic period."

    That's the word from the World Health Organization, which today downgraded H1N1 from pandemic status on its six-stage alert system. The virus has killed an estimated 19,000 people worldwide so far, compared with the 500,000 the WHO estimates die during a typical flu season.

    "The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course," Margaret Chan, WHO's director general, said in a statement. "We expect the H1N1 virus to take on the behavior of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come."

    With today's announcement, outside experts are already chiming in on the agency's actions -- and how they need to change in time for the next influenza, which could very well be significantly more virulent.

    For most Americans, a veritable post-pandemic period started months ago, when reported cases of the illness "that would stun the world" ebbed significantly, and initial concerns over widespread fatalities proved unfounded.

    Still, the WHO lagged on making any official announcements, despite convening several times to consider downgrading the influenza alert. Meanwhile, some health experts denounced the agency's management of H1N1 -- and even suggested a link between WHO officials and the global pharmaceutical industry.

    The WHO has already initiated an investigation into its management of H1N1, and now health experts are looking at what lessons can be learned.

    Thinking Outside National Borders

    In the United States and Europe, health agencies and governments closed the book on H1N1 months ago. But worldwide, the illness continued to spread, and some experts are quick to note the WHO's global responsibility.

    "The World Health Organization seemed slow to Americans, because they are looking at the rest of the world, too," Dr. Albert Wu, a professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told AOL News. "Today's decision is more 'world news' than it is 'U.S. news.' "

    In March, the U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started dumping stockpiles of H1N1 vaccine -- an estimated 71 million doses -- after infection rates and related hospitalizations in the U.S. appeared uncharacteristically low, even for a typical flu season.
    Some of the surplus stock was sent to developing countries, where flu season was just gearing up. In India, China, New Zealand and Australia, H1N1 continues to spread, albeit at unseasonably low levels and with relatively mild impact.

    In India, health experts are warning that monsoon rains could mean a stronger second wave of H1N1 infections.

    "We will see many more positive cases of H1N1 infection and maybe more deaths, exactly similar to what is happening across the globe," Ghulam Nabi Azad, India's health minister, said Sunday. "The virus is highly contagious. People should self-report and not wait for government to track them down."

    Considering the Alternatives

    The global response to H1N1 was marked by a media frenzy, massive financial losses and charges of mismanagement.

    In the U.S., the government spent $1.6 billion on a swine flu vaccine program. But while the vaccines, combined with millions of Americans becoming infected, led to massive swaths of immunity, the alternative would have been much worse, according to Wu.

    "When a new strain of virus emerges, with an unusual pattern and targeting unexpected age groups, then how do you react?" he said. "If you blow it off, it's possible adequate response from a public health standpoint -- from vaccine production to hand washing -- won't occur."

    Indeed, the first few months of H1N1's lifespan were alarming. After initial cases were reported in Mexico in March 2009, the virus quickly moved into Texas. Not knowing how severe the influenza might be, or how quickly it would spread, officials reacted in what Wu described as "an unfortunate scenario of uncertainty."

    "There's no exact science," he said. "If cases in the U.S. had continued to spread as they had in Mexico, this could have been catastrophic."

    A Credibility Kick to the WHO

    Despite the uncertainties that inevitably accompany a flu outbreak, the WHO will get a "kick to their credibility" the next time around, said David Fidler, a professor at Indiana University and an expert in international health law.

    "I don't think there's any doubt anymore that the WHO has taken a hit," he told AOL News. "But really, in hindsight, I don't know how much of that criticism is fair."

    The WHO, as the international regulatory body for global health issues, opted for "the only credible response, which is a vaccine," Fidler said. And while wealthier nations, like the U.S., effectively fast-tracked production and distribution, a dearth of access for those in developing countries points to one area where the WHO might not have adequate oversight.

    The agency was also testing, for the first time, its newly initiated six-stage pandemic alert system, along with a new set of rules called the International Health Regulations, which outline the response capacities necessary among member countries.

    For an influenza to hit stage six, it needs to entail "community-level outbreaks" in several countries. But the WHO criteria don't address fatality or prevalence -- meaning that a mild illness, like H1N1, can become a pandemic even with mortality rates that are lower than those of a standard flu season.

    "How can it be a pandemic when, globally, it's pretty clear that this is a mild virus?" Fidler said. "Clearly, this needs to be better calibrated."

    And H1N1 served as a stark reminder that the new regulations, which were instituted in 2005 and are accompanied by a 2012 deadline for compliance, are nowhere close to being met by developing countries.

    "There is a disaster in global equity," Fidler said. "These IHR capacities are the elephant in the room: Where are the resources for those countries to get ready, so that if the next outbreak is worse, they're ready to go?"

    What About the Next One?

    There's no doubt, as Fidler is quick to point out, that the world "dodged a bullet" with H1N1.

    And Chan, whose agency has already initiated reviews and will likely conduct more in the months and years ahead to assess how it handled H1N1, seems to concur.

    "Pandemics are unpredictable and prone to deliver surprises. No two pandemics are ever alike," she said. "This time around, we have been aided by pure good luck."

    While Fidler acknowledges the necessity of a regulatory agency to handle worldwide response, he's also adamant that the WHO isn't solely responsible for an effective global game plan.

    "The big question here is what other resources and authority does the WHO need to do their job," he said. "In this cash-strapped climate, I have my doubts that member states will consent to giving more -- but if they don't provide that, then don't blame the WHO."

    So while today's announcement might be a nonevent, especially to Americans already anticipating next year's flu shot, it's inevitable that the fallout from H1N1 will influence how future pandemics are addressed.

    And if nothing else, Wu said, H1N1 served as a relatively mild practice run for a more severe outbreak in the future.

    "I'd hate to think of this as 'the boy who cried wolf,' " he said. "Instead, consider that this helped us gear up our warning systems, and maybe we'll be better prepared and able to offer a more measured response next time. Because there will be a next time."
  2. Snow Leopard

    Snow Leopard Senior Member

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    Australia
    There were also substantial benefits of the hype - more testing equals more data in terms of virus surveillance - great for those building models which predict the spread of viruses around the world.
  3. muffin

    muffin Senior Member

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    Andrew: I must misunderstood what you meant about the hype and testing. There was NO FURTHER TESTING as decreed by the CDC as of 31 August 2009. Doctors and hospitals were told to assume it was Swine Flu and treat accordingly. Because the CDC did NOT want those real Swine Flu tests done, there was NO REAL DATA on the real number of sick and dead. The real data came from heavy investigation from the two major TV networks that did go state by state to find out the real numbers. In most states, the numbers of real Swine Flu were under 5% and Alaska had only a rate of 1% true Swine Flu.

    The numbers of Swine Flu sick and dead were so much lower than the regular seasonal viruses - it was a glaring number and one I can find for you if you like.

    Swine Flu and the other viruses -- except XMRV --- were HYPED by the CDC to keep funding UP. Well that game is over and I believe that Congress will step in and cut the budget on Swine Flu because of the insanely low numbers of Swine Flu. The CDC cried Wolf too many times and THIS time it is going to get their budget cut and kick them in the butt. As it should.
  4. Francelle

    Francelle Senior Member

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    Muffin, you are commenting on the situation in the US which is only one country that experienced the H1N1 potential pandemic. There was a lot of testing done globally to start with and I’m sure collectively much useful data was obtained for future models as Andrew1 suggests..

    Altho’ the proportion of H1N1 deaths may not have reached expected levels, the demographics of many of those who died were somewhat unexpected, such as previously healthy pregnant women, young people & young adults. Very few people over 60 years died in Australia at least. Of course, as can be expected in any such contagion, there were also a significant proportion of people with pre-existing conditions who succumbed.

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