Is WHO’s pandemic plan the problem?

From PharmaTech comes the following paragraph, which implies that once a pandemic is identified, the WHO’s Pandemic Plan goes into effect. An evaluation of severity is missing from this scenario. Somehow, the assumption seems to be that pandemics (all pandemics, especially those associated with influenza viruses) are dire events with high mortality rates. Yet the word pandemic only means “widespread.”

“WHO’s 2009 pandemic-preparedness plan was an updated version of its first such document, which the organization drafted in 1999. Stressing the effort WHO put into the plan, Fukuda said that the plan included contributions from more than 135 public-health scientists from 48 countries. A request for public comments on the draft document yielded more than 600 replies.”

Fukuda’s protest that swine flu is a “real” pandemic is correct. Swine flu is a pandemic, and it is mild. A new type of cold virus can also cause a pandemic.

So who decides that a sufficiently severe pandemic is occurring, and therefore WHO’s pandemic plan needs to be activated? Wouldn’t that be Fukuda and Chen? Isn’t Fukuda dodging discussion of what is really relevant?

Somebody at WHO has to take responsibility for the worldwide misallocation of many billion $s in public health resources. A conflicted SAGE (Strategic Advisory Group of Experts) gave WHO advice. But who at WHO flipped the switch?

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