We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

The WHO is to investigate its handling of swine flu [PDF, 900kB] — influenza A(H1N1) — amid criticism that it overreacted to the pandemic.

The pandemic will be the subject of a hearing organised by the Council of Europe later this month (26 January).

Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's special advisor on pandemic influenza, confirmed last week (14 January) that the organisation would participate in the discussion, and also conduct its own review of its response to the pandemic.

The WHO is under fire by some European politicians who have accused it of exaggerating the seriousness of influenza A(H1N1). BBC Online reported last week (12 January) that wealthy countries spent billions on medicines that many now believe are unnecessary.

Fukuda said that "the actions taken by countries to deal with this pandemic have been by far "the best in history" and that this played a major part in alleviating the crisis.

Reuters reported last week (12 January) that the United States government has halved its order for A(H1N1) vaccine from an Australian pharmaceutical manufacturer, one of five companies from which it has ordered a total of 251 million doses.

The report quoted Germany's Bild newspaper as saying that the German government had also cut its GlaxoSmithKline order by one third.

But, as the A(H1N1) pandemic gradually declines, new strains are likely to replace it, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has warned. Earlier this month (8 January) Reuters quoted the centre's flu expert Angus Nicholl, who said: "The historical pattern of human influenzas is that after pandemics, the world experiences a new mix of viruses".

Among airline passengers, those flying economy are the most at risk of catching A(H1N1), researchers reported in BMC Medicine last month (24 December). They used mathematical modelling to calculate the odds of catching the virus on a flight. In economy, 2–5 people will be infected by every one person with A(H1N1) during a five-hour flight (0–1 for first class) and on a long flight of 17 hours this increases to between seven and 17 (2–5 for first class).

Producing influenza A(H1N1) vaccine in insect cells is a quick and safe alternative to the traditional method of using chicken eggs, Austrian researchers have found. The findings were published in Biotechnology Journal earlier this month (5 January).

A(H1N1) flu is ten times more dangerous to children than seasonal flu, a large-scale study in Argentina has found. In a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine last month (23 December), researchers analysed the impact of pandemic flu on children in Buenos Aires between May and July 2009.

Japanese researchers have analysed the three-dimensional structures of proteins to look at how antibodies developed in response to infection by the 1918 flu pandemic played a role in immunity to A(H1N1). Their research, published online in PLoS One this month (1 January), provides insight into how future changes in antibody production during the evolution of A(H1N1) will impact humans.

Do you find this update useful? Let us know why so we can make it even better.

If you have used the information from one of our swine-flu science updates, please email us with details of how the material has helped you and what impact it has had on your work.

SciDev.Net's regular swine flu science updates are part of the swine flu subtopic, which offers up-to-date news, opinions and features on swine flu and the developing world.

You can also receive the latest on swine flu from SciDev.Net by signing up to our RSS feed or subscribing to our weekly email alert.

Related topics