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WHO chief urges preparedness for second wave of swine flu.

By jeremyc | August 26, 2009

 AFP (8/21) reports, “World Health Organization chief Margaret Chan on Friday urged governments to prepare for a likely second wave of swine flu cases, cautioning they will face tough decisions on how to dispense vaccines. ‘We cannot say for certain whether the worst is over or the worst is yet to come,’ Chan said via videotaped address at the start of a three-day symposium on influenza in the Asia-Pacific region.” She added that the world needed to be prepared for “whatever surprises this capricious new virus delivers next,” adding that “a second or even a third wave” was a possibility. Chan also noted that “the issue of vaccine supplies needed to be tackled ‘head on’, as more than two dozen pharmaceutical companies around the world scramble to produce safe and effective vaccinations.” Chain also expressed the need to “gather advice on priority groups” in need of protection, cautioning that the limited vaccine supply could create “one of the most difficult decisions governments around the world will need to make.”

        WHO official predicts “explosion” of swine flu cases. The AP (8/21) reports, “The global spread of swine flu will endanger more lives as it speeds up in coming months and governments must boost preparations for a swift response, the World Health Organization said Friday.” Speaking at a symposium of health officials and experts in Beijing, WHO’s Western Pacific director, Shin Young-soo, said, “There will soon be a period of further global spread of the virus, and most countries may see swine flu cases double every three to four days for several months until peak transmission is reached.” Shin warned of a seeming “explosion in case numbers,'” adding that many of those cases could be fatalities. Shin also cautioned that governments must act quickly to prepare the public to prevent unnecessary deaths. “We only have a short time period to reach the state of preparedness deemed necessary,” Shin said.

        French research team says half of swine flu fatalities have occurred within high-risk demographics. Reuters (8/21, Fox) reports that French researchers have found that nearly half of swine flu fatalities have been considered in the high risk categories for the virus. A team at the French Institute for Public Health Surveillance in St. Maurice also found that older people are less likely to become infected, although more likely to die from the virus.

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