U.K. receives high marks for H1N1 response

Health officials in the United Kingdom have received good marks by an independent review committee for their response to the H1N1 pandemic.

The committee, appointed in March, was headed by Dame Deirdre Hine, former chief medical officer of Wales, CIDRAP News reports.

Hine told CIDRAP News that the committee’s 183-page report was the result of over 100 interviews, as well as the review of approximately 700 medical documents. Overall, Hine said the U.K.’s response was effective.

Hine did note, however, some areas where U.K. officials could improve in the case of future H1N1 outbreaks.

The committee’s report cited 28 suggested improvements, which were broken up into six categories, including government response, scientific advice, containment, treatment, vaccine and communications, CIDRAP News reports.

Scientific advice was chief among the recommendations for future outbreaks. Hine noted that health officials, early on in the outbreak, had unrealistic expectations of modeling, which wasn't yet reliable because adequate data was lacking. Modeling became more accurate as better information became available, Hine said.

The review group suggested that officials be prepped on the strengths and limitations of scientific advice early on. It also suggested that U.K. health ministers work harder to gauge pandemic severity in early stages.

The independent review stands in contrast to criticisms from some European politicians, according to CIDRAP News, which noted that some members of the Council of Europe criticized governments for wasting resources on pandemic vaccine purchases.