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Editorial: WHO's Over-reacting to H1N1?

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Did the World Health Organization (WHO) over-react? Any parent knows that you can either over-react or under-react in the face of danger to your children’s welfare. The WHO has a responsibility (much like parents do) to alert the world’s citizens to dangerous diseases and call to action assistance in dealing with possible pandemics. They had a choice; they could’ve underplayed the seriousness, or they could have done just what they did, and alert the world governments about the risk of H1N1, calling for vaccination efforts.

It's been claimed that the alert was over-stated. For example, the WHO initially thought it would require two doses of vaccine for everyone, rather than just for children under the age of 9 as is now recommended. They also changed the requirements to limit who should first receive it (those with known respiratory illness, and pregnant women, etc.). They estimated the severity of the virus based on the transmissibility, not the deadliness of the strain. According to the WHO, it is normal to judge severity based on transmissibility.

The accusing governments over-committed purchasing vaccines for what they estimate has turned out to be a "mild pandemic." In a related article, “The H1N1 Pandemic, Is a Second Wave Possible?” the author states that it is difficult to compare this pandemic to pandemics of the past because even 40 years ago, health officials didn’t have the antiviral therapies and vaccination capabilities available today.

"So did they over-react?" I asked my friend, Erin, a clinical nurse. She said, speaking for not only herself but her doctor husband as well, “Ask China- who came under [scrutiny following] the SARS pandemic, [and] had the world tut-tutting at them for not being more pro-active.”

Currently, H1N1 has claimed over 14,000 laboratory-confirmed deaths worldwide, most have been young, previously healthy people. Comparatively, SARS has only claimed 774 deaths.

Erin went on to say, “ …based on the numbers, this was a pandemic, even if the flu was not virile enough to kill most of the people it infected.

Add a Comment4 Comments

Thank you, Pat. I am so sorry for your loss. It definitely does give a different perspective when something hits close to home. I'm fairly certain H1N1 whipped through our home back in September, we all survived but did get the secondary infections (bronchitis for my husband and me, and ear infections and strep for our sons). I think H1N1 isn't done with all of us yet. I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the coming months.
I wish you peace. -Christine

January 28, 2010 - 7:33am
EmpowHER Guest

First of all - there have not been 14,000 lab confirmed H1N1 deaths worldwide. That 14,000 figure includes the outrageous and overblown 'estimate' by the CDC of 11,000 deaths in the US. Here, directly from the CDC website: "From August 30, 2009 – January 2, 2010, 37,778 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations and 1,735 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated deaths were reported to CDC." 1,735 US lab-confirmed deaths in the US - the CDC just decided that gee, we must have missed over 10,000 deaths - maybe, doctors just weren't aware enough of H1N1 to order the correct tests. The CDC would have you believe that the US had 11,000 deaths and the rest of the world combined - had only 3,000. Give me a break - and for god sakes, read the fine print when you do your 'research'.

As for those who 'know' people who have had swine flu - unless they got a confirmed strain-specific lab result positive for H1N1 (which takes several weeks) - you, or your friends, most likely did not have swine flu. At any given time during the 'pandemic' less than 40% (and sometimes less than 3%) of samples sent to labs as suspected swine flu wound up negative for any flu at all (you can check this all on the CDC website). This means that at best, over half, and at worst, over 97% of folks told by the doctor 'Its the swine flu!" - actually had NO FLU AT ALL. And bloggers are wondering why the WHO is under investigation? Add the CDC to the investigation would ya?

January 28, 2010 - 7:25am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Wow, take a deep breath. You do not believe the H1N1 outbreak could be classified as a pandemic? Or are you worked up about the CDC's numbers?

February 1, 2010 - 2:23pm
HERWriter Guide

Hi Christine - Some were asking that same question even in the very early stages of the H1N1 outbreak, and I've heard several unaffected people ask the question more recently. With two deaths in my immediate circle of friends, I think one's perspective has an awful lot to do with personal experience and how much much knowledge you have about the overall situation. I appreciate the information that you've provided - thank you! Pat

January 27, 2010 - 5:44pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.



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