Intended for healthcare professionals


UK urges more flexibility in criteria for flu pandemic alerts

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 21 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2067
  1. Adrian O’Dowd
  1. 1London

    Greater flexibility and additional information are needed when deciding whether to declare a flu pandemic, a delegation of countries have told the World Health Organization.

    The United Kingdom proposed at this week’s World Health Assembly in Geneva that a phase 6 alert—the top level—should reflect the severity of a new virus and not just its geographical spread.

    Speaking at the assembly the health secretary, Alan Johnson, said that WHO should not just be driven by a purely “mechanistic approach” but should also be able to use emerging knowledge about the severity of the disease and other considerations before taking the decision to move a flu pandemic alert to phase 6.

    Mr Johnson told WHO’s general secretary, Margaret Chan: “It is my belief we need to give you and your team more flexibility as to whether we move to phase 6.”

    Dr …

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