The World Health Organization just declared a swine flu pandemic:
WHO chief Dr. Margaret Chan made the announcement Thursday after the U.N. agency held an emergency meeting with flu experts. Chan said she was moving to phase 6 - the agency's highest alert level - which means a pandemic, or global epidemic, is under way.However, she goes on to say,
"The world is moving into the early days of its first influenza pandemic in the 21st century," Chan told reporters. "The virus is now unstoppable."
"...we do not expect to see a sudden and dramatic jump in the number of severe and fatal infections."
So the virus is now both unstoppable but not expected to result in a sudden number of new, serious cases.
So why should I care?
My first impression is that the WHO is playing with language in order to get certain funds released here and there. I'm not sure, and I'm not a medical journalist paid to suss all this out each and every day, but just as a thinking person I'm suspicious.
Which, in my opinion, is a huge mistake on WHO's part.
Look: I am not worried about getting the swine flu. I don't fly much, but even if I did I frankly wouldn't worry about it at this point. Nor do I fly internationally, but even then I don't think I'd really give it much thought, if any. The whole thing seems overblown from the beginning.
If this wording is really required to get certain funds released, then OK but the criteria really needs to be rethought. Because people are being made afraid for no reason whatsoever. Ordinary flu already kills up to 500,000 people/yr.
The BBC says (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8094655.stm):
It means the swine flu virus is spreading in at least two regions of the world with rising cases being seen in the UK, Australia, Japan and Chile.
WHO chief Dr Margaret Chan said the move does not mean the virus is causing more severe illness or more deaths.
If so, this is a very dumb and inappropriate use of language.