WHO Predicts 'Explosion' of Swine Flu Cases
Associated Press/AP Online
August 23, 2009
BEIJING – The global spread of swine flu will endanger more lives as it speeds up in coming months and governments must boost preparations for a swift response, the World Health Organization said Friday.
There will soon be a period of further global spread of the virus, and most countries may see swine flu cases double every three to four days for several months until peak transmission is reached, said WHO’s Western Pacific director, Shin Young-soo.
“At a certain point, there will seem to be an explosion in case numbers,” Shin told a symposium of health officials and experts in Beijing. “It is certain there will be more cases and more deaths.”
WHO has declared the swine flu strain a pandemic, and it has killed almost 1,800 people worldwide through last week. International attention has focused on how the pandemic is progressing in southern hemisphere countries such as Australia, which are experiencing winter and their flu season.
But it is in developing countries where the accelerated spread of swine flu poses the greatest threat as it places underequipped and underfunded health systems under severe strain, Shin said.
WHO earlier estimated that as many as 2 billion people could become infected over the next two years – nearly one-third of the world’s population.
Health officials and drug makers are looking into ways to speed up production of a vaccine before the northern hemisphere enters its flu season in coming months. Estimates for when a vaccine will be available range from September to December.