WHO Raises Swine Flu Pandemic Level to Phase 5

WSJ reports: Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General is giving an update on the swine flu situation. She says:

“All countries should immediately now activate their pandemic preparedness plans,” remain on alert for pneumonia and influenza-like illness.

“The biggest question right now is this: How severe will the pandemic be? … It is possible that the full clinical spectrum of this disease goes from mild illness to severe disease.” But more data is needed to answer the question more precisely. “We know influenza may cause mild disease in affluent societies, but more severe disease with higher mortality in developing countries.”

Regarding global availability of drugs that work to treat the swine flu: “I cannot give you a specific answer as to how much is available.” WHO has roughly 3.5 million doses of Tamiflu that were donated by Roche. “Clearly that’s not enough.”

Chan: “Pandemic virus is precarious, unpredictable and will take us by surprise.”

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