However mild it has turned out to be, swine flu is still leaving people ill, and dead. Since it first emerged H1N1 has caused or contributed to at least 18,000 deaths across the globe, according to the World Health Organisation. Those have occurred in: the Americas (8,274), Europe (4,776), the western Pacific (1,804), south-east Asia (1,757), the eastern Mediterranean (1,019) and Africa (168). “Pandemic influenza continues to be the predominant circulating influenza virus worldwide,” according to the WHO.
But after the pandemic, the recriminations. Worldwide there are now inquiries going on into how some governments and the WHO handled the outbreak. Some even question why the WHO declared it last June to be a pandemic - the first one classed as such for 40 years - when the virus itself was fairly weak. Experts are divided about whether the response was about right or disproportionate to the actual threat to human health.
The WHO has commissioned the International Health Regulations Review Committee to analyse its response to H1N1 and co-ordination of efforts to thwart it. In the UK, about 5.5 million people have been vaccinated against swine flu and ministers are exchanging GBP150m of no longer necessary doses with the drug companies for other products. An independent review of the health department’s action began recently.