H1N1 assessment pushed back to August

The experts handling the H1N1 pandemic for the World Health Organization may wait until the end of August to reassess the outbreak’s status, according to WHO head Margaret Chan.

Originally, a committee headed by Australian infectious diseases expert John Mackenzie was to meet in mid-July to discuss downgrading the H1N1 outbreak into the post-pandemic phase. According to AFP, Chan reported that the emergency committee of 15 recommended that the decision be postponed until new data can be found.

“In the northern hemisphere, the situation is okay, but we have to look at the situation in the southern hemisphere,” Chan told AFP. "The president of the committee said that we have to wait and see what is going on in Australia and New Zealand where, traditionally, the peak of influenza is in July.”

The WHO declared H1N1 to be a pandemic on June 11, 2009, and has been severely criticized for its decision by the EU and several national governments.

Despite claiming more than 18,000 lives, the outbreak was not as large as originally feared and could be prevented with one dose of vaccine, instead of the two originally thought. As a result, many governments around the world have been left with a stockpile of unused vaccine.