It's Ovah,..It's ALL Ovah,...
GENEVA — The World Health Organization declared the swine flu pandemic officially over Tuesday, months after many national authorities started canceling vaccine orders and shutting down hot lines as the disease ebbed from the headlines.
WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said the organization's emergency committee of top flu experts advised her that the pandemic had "largely run its course" and the world is no longer in phase six — the highest influenza alert level.
"I fully agree with the committee's advice," Chan told reporters in a telephone briefing from her native Hong Kong.
The virus has now entered the "post-pandemic" phase, meaning disease activity around the world has returned to levels usually seen for seasonal influenza, she said.
But Chan cautioned against complacency, saying that even though hospitalizations and deaths have dropped sharply, countries should still keep a watchful eye for unusual patterns of infection and mutations that might render existing vaccines and antiviral drugs ineffective.
"It is likely that the virus will continue to cause serious disease in younger age groups," she said, urging high-risk groups such as pregnant women to continue seeking vaccination.
WHO chief Chan insisted that declaring swine flu a pandemic had been the right decision, based on the internationally agreed rules that existed at the time.
"We have been aided by pure good luck," she said, adding that if the virus had mutated then the death rate could have been much higher.
As someone closely-involved at a county level, I'm going to strongly disagree with that last statement. While many may deride the government and media outlets for stirring mass-panic over the entire affair, I'm going to paraphrase one of my fellow county organizers: if nothing else, it was a good exercise in healthcare mobilization and deployment should we ever be attacked by a biologic agent!
Personally, over 50% of my company's paramedics received PA Dept of Health endorsements to administer the H1N1 vaccine and I'm looking at a freezer full of PA DoH-assigned H1N1 doses that will have to be destroyed because they're past their expiration dates.
Luck my ass!