WHO says pandemic at less severe end of spectrum: WHO

GENEVA — The current H1N1 swine flu pandemic is relatively less severe than some other influenza outbreaks, the World Health Organization said Feb. 24.

"This pandemic appears to be on the less severe side of the spectrum of pandemics that we have seen in the 20th century," the United Nations health agency's top flu expert, Keiji Fukuda, told a briefing.

He was speaking the day after the WHO's emergency committee decided it was premature to declare that the current pandemic, declared in June, had peaked. The committee will reconvene in a few weeks.

Their conclusions will be set out in more detail in a press conference Wednesday, which will include the Keiji Fukuda, special adviser to the WHO director-general on pandemic influenza.

Their views will help national health authorities recalibrate their flu planning and strategy.

The 15-member emergency committee headed by Australian infectious diseases expert John Mackenzie has been following signs over the past months that the A (H1N1) flu virus was tailing off in most parts of the world.

"What we are hoping for is that the worst is behind us," Fukuda said earlier this month.

However, he said Feb. 23 that H1N1’s spread has differed around the globe.

"There has been some ongoing activity in other parts of the world, such as Eastern Europe [and] parts of Central Asia.”

The flu experts noted that some countries had seen two waves of infection.

Fukuda said the committee had decided "it was too early to conclude that the pandemic was in a post-peak period in many countries."