WHO warns flu pandemic to occur
Xinhuanet | August 25, 2005
Experts predict a flu pandemic is sure to occur, although the timing and severity of it is still uncertain, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Wednesday.
As part of its efforts to prepare for, detect and mitigate the impact of an eventual flu pandemic, the WHO is creating an international stockpile of antiviral drugs for rapid response at the start of the pandemic, WHO Director-General Lee Jong-wook saidat a press conference here.
In an agreement signed Wednesday, Roche, a leading healthcare company based in Switzerland, committed to donating three million treatment courses of the antiviral drug oseltamivir to the WHO, which could be dispatched to people in greatest need at the site of an emerging influenza pandemic.
Oseltamivir could help to reduce illness and death. When combined with other measures, it could contribute to the containment of an emerging pandemic virus or slow its national andinternational spread.
"If a flu pandemic were to emerge, these drugs could be flown quickly to the center of the potential pandemic. We urge other countries to help us build up the international stockpile," said Lee Jong-wook.
The WHO stockpile is meant to complement other measures of national and international preparedness.
The WHO said it is carefully monitoring the ongoing bird flu outbreaks in Russia, Kazakhstan and other parts of Asia.
It warned that the outbreaks could evolve into a global flu pandemic if the bird flu virus mutates into a form which could be transmitted from person to person.