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WHO Panel to Review H1N1 Pandemic Current Status

The World Health Organization () will review the status of the virus later this month or in early June to decide whether the pandemic is over.

Spokesman Gregory Hartl said that the Emergency Committee is waiting for the onset of winter in the southern hemisphere before making its recommendation.

The WHO’s guidance on whether a disease constitutes a pandemic determines how its 193 member governments handle an outbreak, including stockpiling vaccines and antivirals.

The United Nations body has been accused of exaggerating the dangers of the H1N1 outbreak, which was declared a full pandemic in June 2009 after dominating last year’s health assembly.

The current virus appears to have been less severe than the two previous influenza pandemics in 1957 and 1968, which killed about 2 million and 1 million people respectively, with most victims suffering only mild symptoms.

John Mackenzie, who chairs the emergency committee and is the only one of its 15 members to have been publicly identified, said last month that the current pandemic was as severe as the two previous ones and remained a threat.

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