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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Reuters : Urgency needed in pandemic preparation: U.S. official

Via Reuters:

" The task of preparing for flu pandemics remains urgent, and the world must guard against complacency in the wake of the H1N1 outbreak, which appears less deadly than a potential bird flu pandemic, a U.S. health official said.

Participants in a ministerial conference on influenza in Hanoi, "felt the need to re-commit" to the effort, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones said on Wednesday.

About 17,000 people have died from laboratory-confirmed cases of H1N1 but the World Health Organization, which declared the H1N1 flu a pandemic last June, has said the real death toll is likely to be many times higher.

Initial fears that the pandemic would kill millions have turned out to be unfounded so far. Orders for vast quantities of vaccines are being renegotiated.

Experts, however, fear that if the more deadly H5N1 bird flu virus mutates to become easily transmissible between humans it could lead to such a pandemic.

"We still continue to be in a period of urgency," Jones told a news conference."

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