The “reports during the past two weeks of two recent infections and another death” from H5N1 (avian) influenza “raised little concern except among public health officials,” Robert Gatter, co-director of the Center for Health Law Studies and professor of law at Saint Louis University, writes in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion piece, adding that “[t]he fact that bird flu in developing nations receives little public attention reveals that the world has become complacent about this threat.”
“The World Health Organization is declaring an end to the global swine flu pandemic,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan “said Wednesday the pandemic is considered over by WHO’s emergency committee due to global factors and reports from several nations” and because “the new H1N1 virus has largely run its course,” according to the news agency.
“More than 100 public health experts have wrapped up a three-day meeting in Geneva to review a Global Action Plan for Influenza Vaccines that was developed in 2006, and to develop a strategic plan of action for the next five years,” VOA News reports, noting that the WHO “says the world is better prepared for the next influenza pandemic than it was in the past” (Schlein, 7/14).
GAO on Monday published two reports on the government’s response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. The first report examines lessons learned from the government’s response that can be incorporated into future planning (6/27). The second report examines how production delays for the H1N1 vaccine “heightened interest in alternative technologies…
A new variant of H1N1 (swine) influenza that is easily spread and retains some resistance to the two major drugs used to treat flu has been detected in Singapore and Australia, according to a report from the WHO’s influenza research group published in the journal Eurosurveillance, Bloomberg reports (Cortez, 6/9).
In his opening address at the U.N. High Level Meeting on AIDS on Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “told presidents, ministers and diplomats from across the globe that if all partners involved in the fight unite ‘as never before,’” the goal of “zero new infections, zero stigma and zero AIDS-related deaths” can be achieved, the Associated Press/Kansas City Star reports (Lederer, 6/8).
After almost four years of negotiations, the WHO on Saturday announced it had reached an agreement on sharing flu virus samples, Agence-France Presse reports (4/17).
A draft agreement that would ensure countries would share virus samples in exchange for access to affordable vaccines derived from such samples in the event of a pandemic is nearly complete, senior diplomats told Reuters on Thursday. “Consensus has been reached across all regions, including Indonesia which three years ago stopped sharing influenza samples with the World Health Organization (WHO), but the United States has yet to give formal approval, they said,” according to the news service.
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Countries are narrowing in on a “deal to speed up their response to the next flu pandemic by sharing virus samples in return for access to affordable vaccines,” co-chairs of a WHO working group told reporters on Tuesday, Reuters reports. The group, which is meeting this week and just last week was in meetings with drug manufacturers and WHO member states about the plans, says it hopes to have a draft agreement finalized by Friday to be voted on during next month’s World Health Assembly, according to the news service (Nebehay, 4/12).