Robert Webster, an influenza expert, says health authorities worldwide need to remain watchful for possible influenza outbreaks, despite swine flu being much less deadly than people had originally feared. Webster, chairman of the virology and molecular biology department at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, USA, says that bird flu remains a possible threat and could be the cause of the next global outbreak.
Last month, WHO (World Health Organization) declared the swine flu (H1N1) pandemic over, after 18,600 reported deaths worldwide – WHO warnings and recommendations had led many to believe we were in for an epidemic which would cost millions of lives. Some prestigious medical journals, as well as leading experts expressed concern that billions of dollars of public money was wasted, with not much achieved except for the pharmaceutical industry’s profits. At an influenza conference in Hong Kong (Options for the Control of Influenza VII) a WHO official defended the accusations against it.