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Official H1N1-Related Death Count Approaches 13,000 Worldwide, WHO Says

H1N1 (swine flu) has killed 12,799 people worldwide since the virus first emerged, the WHO said on Friday, United Press International reports (1/8). According to the WHO, more than half of the H1N1-related deaths worldwide occurred in the Americas, China Daily reports (1/9).

“The WHO’s tally of global pandemic deaths is an under-representation of the actual numbers as many deaths are never tested or recognized as influenza related, the UN agency noted,” Xinhua reports (1/8).

“The most active areas of pandemic influenza transmission currently are in parts of central, eastern and southeastern Europe, North Africa, and South Asia,” CBC News reports.”Pandemic influenza transmission is also widespread and active in northern India, Nepal, and in Sri Lanka” (1/8).

“Disease activity peaked in October in Mexico, the United States and Canada, with flu infections now below the historical seasonal baseline after a big surge in autumn and early winter,” Reuters reports. “And in southern hemisphere nations, where H1N1 was prolific last year, the WHO said the flu virus was now spreading less easily among people who were already exposed to it” (MacInnis/Nebehay, 1/8).

“In temperate regions of the southern hemisphere, sporadic cases of pandemic influenza continued to be reported without evidence of sustained community transmission,” the WHO said in a statement. “This suggests that the level of population immunity in areas that experienced intense, high-level transmission during a winter season is high enough to prevent sustained transmission from recurring during the summer when the virus is less transmissible” (1/8).

Reuters continues: “The WHO did not say whether those countries would be better protected for their next winter season, typically when flu viruses spread fastest and easiest” (1/8).

U.S. Reduces H1N1 Vaccine Order; Taiwan, U.K. Consider Similar Measures

The Australian drugmaker CSL Ltd., on Monday announced the U.S. government wants to reduce its orders of the company’s H1N1 vaccine by more than 50 percent, Bloomberg reports. According to company spokeswoman Rachel David, the contract between the U.S. and the company allows the government to change its order (Bennett, 1/11).

“The U.S. move follows other nations which have also cut back swine flu vaccines as health authorities around the world grapple with oversupply due to low demand,” Reuters reports. “France has said it aims to cancel 50 million of the 94 million doses ordered from Sanofi-Aventis, Glaxo, Novartis and Baxter, while Germany wants to cancel half the 50 million doses ordered from Glaxo. Last month, Spain said it was looking to return unused vaccine, and the Netherlands and Switzerland plan to ship surplus supplies to countries still facing a shortage” (Perry, 1/11).

The China Post reportsTaiwan’s Department of Health is debating whether to return some of the doses of H1N1 vaccine the country is scheduled to receive later this month, due to the public’s waning interest in receiving the vaccine. The article details the reasons behind public resistance to the vaccine (Chen/Liu, 1/11).

The Financial Times reports on the efforts of government officials in Britain to scale-back H1N1 vaccine orders (Jack, 1/11).

WHO To Donate Medical Equipment To Nepal; Afghanistan To Receive H1N1 Vaccines

The WHO is shipping medical equipment to help treat patients with H1N1 activity in Nepal, Xinhua reports (1/11).

IRIN reports Afghanistan is slated to receive a donation of 600,000 doses of H1N1 vaccine this week. “The vaccines have been pledged by Turkey (100,000 doses) and the UN World Health Organization (500,000),” the news service writes. “They would be used to immunize the most vulnerable people such as health workers, pregnant women and children” (1/11).