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WHO says it no longer uses 'pandemic' category, but virus still emergency

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  • WHO says it no longer uses 'pandemic' category, but virus still emergency

    febr 24 2020

    GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization no longer uses the term pandemic, but the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak remains an international emergency that is likely to spread further, a spokesman said on Monday.

    Fears of a coronavirus pandemic grew after sharp rises in new cases reported in Iran, Italy and South Korea, although China relaxed restrictions on movement in several places including Beijing as its rates of new infections eased.

    The Geneva-based WHO declared the 2009 H1N1 swine flu outbreak a pandemic, which turned out to be mild, leading to some criticism after pharmaceutical companies rushed development of vaccines and drugs.

    WHO declared the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, in December a public health emergency of International concern, known as a PHEIC, on Jan. 30. The designation, which remains in place, was aimed at helping countries with weaker health systems shore up their defenses, especially in Africa.

    The World Health Organization no longer uses the term pandemic, but the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak remains an international emergency that is likely to spread further, a spokesman said on Monday.
    “Addressing chronic disease is an issue of human rights – that must be our call to arms"
    Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief The Lancet

    ~~~~ Twitter:@GertvanderHoek ~~~ GertvanderHoek@gmail.com ~~~

  • #2
    It will interesting at the W.H.O. media conference today.

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    • #3
      So, are they not using the term 'pandemic' because it's a scary word that causes panic?

      Comment


      • #4
        well... it does contain the word... PANdemIC

        Comment


        • #5
          At news conference - not complete notes. Partial notes only.


          Has pandemic potential? Yes. But not there yet.

          This is not the time to focus on one word.

          Focus on preparing and containment.

          3 priorities: Protect health care workers, protect at risk populations (i.e. elderly), protect vulnerable countries.

          Lockdown approach like China good idea? Not answered - referred to China news conferences by W.H.O. team.

          Family contact driving the transmission dynamics of infections. Each country situation is different.

          Not about shutting borders. It is about communication and coordination between countries.

          What is criteria for pandemic? Comes from Greek word. Whole world exposed. Easier to say this about flu. Don't understand absolute transmission dynamics of Covid-19. China in a downward trend. In a preparedness phase for a pandemic. Too early to declare a pandemic.

          Hard to understand question...something about testing capabilities and quarantine. Now 41 countries have ability to test. Africa has a lot of experience with disease outbreaks. Surveillance systems in place in Africa. Polio efforts for instance. Ebola has a multi-agency and multi-country containment effort.

          Covid-19 long term disease? Don't know. May become endemic, or seasonal, or explosive. Not possible to say. Looking at China experience to learn.

          All countries are vulnerable. All have vulnerable populations. Many health systems are operating at 100% capacity now. If slow down to allow flu season to diminish will free up beds.

          Need to focus on risk management. Not possible to stop spread between countries (even with border restrictions).

          Comment


          • #6
            I do find it a bit interesting that during the press conference there was the emphasis on how we may not prevent it from spreading, but that slowing down the spread was a benefit, i.e. it may allow the flu season to wind down and free up hospital beds... then just a little later there was the comment saying border restrictions will not stop the spread... border restrictions may not stop the spread, but they do accomplish the goal of slowing the spread...

            At some level I do sorta feel sorry for these poor WHO officials having to do these press conferences... they have to walk a thin line between telling us what is going on and not saying anything to cause a financial crisis as I am sure these countries funding the WHO are telling them if they do cause financial problems, then don't expect $$$ from them...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Gert van der Hoek View Post
              [SIZE=14px]febr 24 2020

              GENEVA (Reuters) - The World Health Organization no longer uses the term pandemic,
              "It's not a pandemic, it's a very naughty boy!"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Readymom View Post
                So, are they not using the term 'pandemic' because it's a scary word that causes panic?
                Probably because they got burned after calling the 2009 H1N1 a pandemic and then people got pissed because it turned out to not be too nasty so they were accused of fearmongering.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The problem lies in the WHO's pandemic indicator. It was developed for flu and includes the word influenza throughout. I wrote about this in 2009 and the system should work but needs amending. They have one set of pandemic 'traffic lights' and their definition is based on spread and does not include a severity component. What it should have is one per pathogen with pandemic potential and it should have two scales one for spread and one for severity. At present it is triggered by sustained community transmission in multiple WHO regions and has legal consequences. The changes allowed under a PHEIC or pandemic declaration are not needed in a 2009(H1N1) pandemic where a seasonal flu strain is being replaced by a similar strain. They are needed for this or a high CFR flu. Who boxed themselves into a corner in 2009 by having a disease that met their definition but did not meet the public, or Nation States, understanding of what a pandemic is.

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