WHO Warns H1N1 Swine Flu Could Kill Millions

Posted on September 21, 2009

The Guardian reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) is warning the H1N1 swine flu pandemic could kill millions and cause anarchy in third world countries. The WHO says this will happen unless about $1.5 billion is raised to help poor countries pay for vaccine.
The swine flu pandemic could kill millions and cause anarchy in the world's poorest nations unless £900m can be raised from rich countries to pay for vaccines and antiviral medicines, says a UN report leaked to the Observer.

The disclosure will provoke concerns that health officials will not be able to stem the growth of the worldwide H1N1 pandemic in developing countries. If the virus takes hold in the poorest nations, millions could die and the economies of fragile countries could be destroyed.

Health ministers around the globe were sent the warning on Thursday in a report on the costs of averting a humanitarian disaster in the next few months. It comes as officials inside the World Health Organisation, the UN's public health body, said they feared they would not be able to raise half that amount because of the global downturn.
Unfortunately, there have also been warnings of a vaccine shortfall by the WHO. It is going to be difficult for countries to donate supplies of something they don't have. There is also a time problem as many people appear to be likely to catch the swine flu before the H1N1 vaccine is available.

The CDC says up to 40% of Americans could get swine flu over the next two years. Dr. Ruth Karron, Director of the John Hopkins Vaccine Iniative, said in an MSNBC interview that the CDC's estimate is reasonable because the virus is highly transmissable. Dr. Ruth Karron also says children will be among the groups priortized to receive a H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available. Dr. Karron didn't want to speculate on the number of H1N1 deaths because influenza patterns are very difficult to predict.
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