Scientists reject questions of WHO pandemic warning

Two investigations suggesting that the World Health Organization exaggerated a pharmaceutical industry warning of the H1N1 flu becoming a pandemic have been rejected by scientists.

The reports, released by the health committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and by the British Medical Journal and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, allege that the WHO was potentially influenced by the pharmaceutical industry's declaration that the H1N1 virus was a pandemic.

The two investigations allege that the pandemic warning by the WHO was both baseless and unsubstantiated.

Michael Osterholm, a director at the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy in Minneapolis, said accusations that three scientists who prepared a document on the pandemic who are alleged to have taken payments from the pharmaceutical industry are ridiculous, reports.

"To suggest that the three scientists were able to direct and control the final recommendations is naive, and stated without a single shred of evidence," Osterholm said, according to

Marc Lipsitch, an epidemiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health, said that the WHO's advice on the pandemic was sound and in step with commonly held scientific opinion.

Albert Osterhaus, another scientist, told that the WHO hold a "clear firewall" with its funders and even goes so far to list its sources of funding on its Web site, easing fears of questionable payments.