Next flu pandemic 'a matter of when, not if,' says WHO

Next flu pandemic 'a matter of when, not if,' says WHO

Next flu pandemic 'a matter of when, not if,' says WHO

The world will inevitably face another pandemic of flu and needs to prepare for the potential devastation that could cause, and not underestimate the risks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

Among other things, Dr. Tedros warned of the risk that a new influenza virus could transmit from animals to humans to trigger such a pandemic. "We must be vigilant and prepared - the cost of a major influenza outbreak will far outweigh the price of prevention".

The world has suffered through a number of devastating influenzas pandemics, including the Spanish Flu, which in 1918 killed tens of millions of people globally.

WHO estimates there are 1 billion cases of influenza around the world each year, with 290,000 to 650,000 influenza-related respiratory deaths.

Better tools to prevent, detect, control and treat both pandemic and seasonal influenza are urgently needed, said the WHO.

The updated strategy will focus on stronger disease surveillance and response operations on a country-by-country basis in combination with more effective vaccines, antivirals and treatments with universal access across the world the ultimate goal.

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The WHO plan - which it described as its most comprehensive to date - includes measures to try to protect populations as much as possible from annual outbreaks of seasonal flu, as well as prepare for a pandemic.

Due to its mutating strains, vaccine formulas must be regularly updated and only offer limited protection now.

"But we are still not prepared enough".

"With the partnerships and country-specific work we have been doing over the years, the world is better prepared than ever before for the next big outbreak, but we are still not prepared enough", he said.

World Health Organization said it would expand partnerships to increase research, innovation and availability of new and improved vaccines and other tools to fight influenza.

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