WHO Declares H1N1 Pandemic Alert Over
World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, announced that the world is no longer in phase six of influenza pandemic alert — we are now moving into the post-pandemic period and the new H1N1 virus has largely run its course. Dr. Chan went on to say:
“As we enter the post-pandemic period, this does not mean that the H1N1 virus has gone away. Based on experience with past pandemics, we expect the H1N1 virus to take on the behavoir of a seasonal influenza virus and continue to circulate for some years to come.
In the post-pandemic period, localized outbreaks of different magnitude may show significant levels of H1N1 transmission. This is the situation we are observing right now in New Zealand, and may see elsewhere.
Continued vigilance is extremely important, and WHO has issued advice on recommended surveillance, vaccination, and clinical management during the post-pandemic period.
Based on available evidence and experience from past pandemics, it is likely that the virus will continue to cause serious disease in younger age groups, at least in the immediate post-pandemic period. Groups identified during the pandemic as at higher risk of severe or fatal illness will probably remain at heightened risk, though hopefully the number of such cases will diminish.
Thanks to extensive preparedness and support from the international community, even countries with very weak health systems were able to detect cases and report them promptly.” (full text of Dr. Chan’s comments)
WHO’s Flu Advisors
WHO has also released a list of flu advisors to the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee concerning Influenza Pandemic (H1N1) 2009. (full list of advisors) Included are these declarations of interest:
- Dr Nancy Cox: Her public health and surveillance research unit at the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) receives financial support from IFPMA for activities of CDC as a WHO Collaborating Centre in the field of influenza vaccine research and virus isolation work.
- Professor Arnold Monto: He has declared current and past consultancies in the field of pandemic and/or seasonal influenza for GSK, Novartis, Roche, Baxter and Sanofi. The remuneration for each of these consultancies is below US$10 000. In addition, his research unit at the University of Michigan has received a grant from Sanofi Pasteur for a clinical trial conducted in 2007-2008 on the comparative efficacy of inactivated and live attenuated influenza vaccines.
- Dr Claude Thibeault: Since 2004, he is the Consultant Medical Advisor to International Air Transport Association.
- Dr John Wood: His research unit at the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), a centre of the UK Health Protection Agency, has performed contract research for Sanofi Pasteur, CSL, IFPMA, Novartis and Powdermed in the field of influenza vaccine research and development.
- Professor Maria Zambon: The UK Health Protection Agency Centre for Infection receives funding from vaccine manufacturers, including Sanofi, Novartis, CSL, Baxter and GSK, for contract work in Dr Zambon’s laboratory.
- Professor Neil Morris Ferguson (Advisor): He has acted as a consultant for Roche and GSK Biologicals (ceasing in 2007), with total remuneration from all such work being under US$7 000 in 2007.
2010-2011 Influenza Season, Post-Pandemic Period
Meanwhile, the CDC is gearing up for the 2010-2011 influenza season and advises that the seasonal vaccine this year will contain three vaccine viruses recommended by WHO and the FDA:
- an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)–like virus,
- an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)–like virus,
- and a B/Brisbane/60/2008–like virus.
The H1N1 virus is the same vaccine virus as was used in the 2009 H1N1 vaccine.Seasonal flu vaccines are generally available in September and throughout the flu season into January and beyond.
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Photo Credit: Greg Knobloch, via U.S. Centers for disease Control and Prevention