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Swine flu scare was exaggerated, admits WHO

New Delhi, April 6 (IANS) The World Health Organisation (WHO) Tuesday admitted that the swine flu scare was exaggerated as alleged by several countries, including India, But it declined to comment whether it was done to benefit global pharmaceutical companies.

"Yes, it was," Samlee Plianbangchang, regional director of WHO southeast Asia, said in a reply to a question on whether H1N1 scare was exaggerated by the global health watchdog.

However, WHO authorities declined to comment whether the hype was created by the global health agency to benefit pharmaceutical companies.

"It will be answered by our designated spokesman," a WHO spokeswoman said.

The UN health watchdog declared Influenza A (H1N1) as a pandemic in 2009 after the disease broke out across the globe.

India has already expressed its displeasure and demanded an investigation into "unnecessary scare" created by the WHO.

Minister of state for Health and Family Welfare Dinesh Trivedi has said that it was important to find out whether there was ever a nexus between pharmaceutical companies and WHO which made the global health watchdog declare H1N1 flu a pandemic virus.

"We definitely demand an inquiry. WHO is not god," Trivedi had told reporters.

The global health watchdog had said that the pandemic will affect at least one-third of the global population and this created a lot of panic around the globe. However, the impact was much less than expected.

India, a country of over 120 crore, saw a little over 30,000 infections since May 2009 till date. Of these, 1,465 people have died till April 5, 2010. But going by the WHO forecasts, over 33 crore people were expected to be afflicted by the virus.

While several companies across the world are busy making the vaccine, India has already imported 1.5 million doses from the multinational firm Sanofi Pasteur. An Indian vaccine is yet to reach market.

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