Another Flu Pandemic Is Inevitable, WHO Says

Henrietta Strickland
March 12, 2019

Outlining a global plan to fight the viral disease and get ahead of a potential global outbreak, the World Health Organization said the next influenza pandemic "is a matter of when, not if".

To reach such an ambitious target, Ghebreyesus highlights worldwide cooperation as paramount to the success of the strategy, in order to avoid a repeat of the H1N1 (Swine flu) pandemic of 2009 and 2010.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a call to arms to prevent the next great influenza pandemic.

The WHO said there were an estimated 1 billion cases of flu each year, resulting in 290,000 to 650,000 respiratory deaths.

Global health experts and the WHO warn there is a risk that a more deadly flu virus will one day jump from animals to people, mutate and infect many hundreds of thousands of people.

"The threat of pandemic influenza is ever-present", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO's director-general, said in a statement.

The world has suffered through a number of devastating influenzas pandemics, including the Spanish Flu, which in 1918 killed tens of millions of people globally.

Three pandemics have occurred since - in 1957, 1968 and in 2009 - when the H1N1 swine flue pandemic claimed around 18,500 lives in 214 countries. "We must be vigilant and prepared - the cost of a major influenza outbreak will far outweigh the price of prevention". It also wants to develop better tools for preventing, detecting, controlling and treating the disease and make these tools accessible for all countries. More effective vaccines and antivirals, particularly for low and middle income countries, are top of the list, the organisation added. Currently, researchers have to wait to identify the particular strain of virus that is circulating and then formulate the vaccine - a process that takes about six months.

"But we are still not prepared enough". "This strategy aims to get us to that point".

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