It started with a bang and ended with nary a whimper. It didn’t even make the headlines. On Tuesday, August 10, 2010, the World health Organization (WHO) declared end to 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic. And nobody cheered or paid any attention. The declaration came from the WHO Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan and was based on “strong indications that influenza, worldwide, is transitioning toward seasonal patterns of transmission.”
“The world is no longer in phase 6 of influenza pandemic alert. We are now moving into the post-pandemic period. “ – WHO
The new H1N1 virus has largely run its course. After all the scare and the hype of last year’s swine epidemic that turned into a so-called pandemic that didn’t materialize, many people felt let down and cheated. Pharma companies made millions of bucks from the H1N1 vaccines. And that is just the vaccines ordered and administered for the high-risk populations. Nobody knows how many more doses have been stockpiled by governments.
Was it all for nothing? Is the swine flu really gone?
Unfortunately not. It is still circulating around. But it is not causing widespread infections anymore that it has been stripped of its scary status as a pandemic blue.
According to a press release of the US Department of Health and Social Services:
“This does not mean that the H1N1 virus has disappeared. Rather, it means current influenza outbreaks including those primarily caused by the 2009 H1N1 virus, show an intensity similar to that seen during seasonal epidemics. Pandemics, like the viruses that cause them, are unpredictable. WHO noted that continued vigilance is extremely important, and it is likely that the virus will continue to cause serious disease in younger age groups and pregnant women, at least in the immediate post-pandemic period.”
I am one of those who took the H1N1 pandemic threat seriously. I fought to have myself and my two kids vaccinated. Do I feel let down and cheated? No, I don’t. Because I know that although I and my family were lucky enough to escape the swine flu, there were those who weren’t so lucky and experienced it – some with serious consequences.
Did it ever occur to you that the pandemic may not have materialized because all the so-called “hype” and “unnecessary” measures actually kept the pandemic at bay and saved countless of lives?
The pandemic flu did not materialize. I don’t feel disappointed. I am grateful.
Did we learn something from the H1N1 pandemic?
I am sure we all did, from the government leaders, international policy makers, scientists and health experts, doctors and other health care providers, to us simple people
We shouldn’t think of last year’s flu pandemic as something similar to “crying wolf”. We shouldn’t become complacent, indifferent and disbelieving just because “only” hundreds instead of thousands died of the swine flu.
Yes, I believe the threat of a pandemic is still real. I just hope we make use of the lessons we learned last year when the next epidemic knocks at our door.