The head of the World Health Organization has warned that the H1N1 flu pandemic might not be conquered until 2011 and that continued vigilant is necessary against the mutating virus.
Margaret Chan, the WHO's director-general, also warned that countries may have strong defense against the influenza pandemics but remain ill-prepared for mass outbreaks of the deadlier bird flu virus.
"It is still premature and too early for us to say we have come to an end of the pandemic influenza worldwide. It would be prudent and appropriate...to continue to monitor the evolution of this pandemic for the next six to 12 months," Chan told a year-end news conference.
"The one thing we need to guard against is a sense of complacency," she said.
Chan said that the United States, Britain and Canada have passed through a second wave of H1N1 but that outbreaks in India, Egypt and elsewhere are intensifying.
More than 200 countries have now been affected by H1N1 with almost 12,000 confirmed deaths, Chan said. The virus, which emerged in April of 2009, has infected millions of people, most of whom recovered without special treatment.
More than 190 million doses of H1N1 vaccine are set to be delivered to 90 developing countries to aid in stopping the epidemic.