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At a press conference today, the World Health Organization announced the first full-blown flu pandemic in 41 years. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan declared the pandemic “globally as being moderate in severity” and a spokesman stated that the term pandemic refers to the “measure of the spread of the virus, not the severity of the virus.” Still however, the pandemic is not to be taken lightly. Chan noted: “This virus is entirely new and it is spreading easily. As of today, nearly 30,000 confirmed cases have been reported from 74 countries. With few exceptions, countries with large numbers of cases have good surveillance and procedures in place. Further spread is considered inevitable.” Surprisingly, the virus affect mostly younger people between the ages of 30 and 50. Chan stated: “This pattern is significantly different from other epidemics of seasonal flu, in which most deaths are in frail, elderly people. Most severe cases have been in people with underlying chronic conditions, such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, auto-immune disorders and obesity.” The pandemic is generally not considered life threatening as Chan told the audience “he overwhelming majority of patients experience mild symptoms and make a rapid and full recovery. Worldwide, the number of deaths is small. Every death is tragic, and we have to brace for more.” In wealthy countries, especially, the pandemic is not considered very threatening at all to its citizens.
The issue of course lies in less wealthy countries, where health standards and regulations are not nearly as structured and extensive. Chan made it clear in the conference that all countries need to come together and help each other through this global issue. Chan noted: “Calling a pandemic is also a signal to the international community: This is a time where the world’s countries, rich or poor, big or small, must come together to make sure that no countries, because of poor resources, should be left behind without help.” Mexico has had many surprising and unpredictable outbreaks of the virus, but Chan told reporters that Mexico is coming to a “steady state.” They are only seeing “sporadic cases and small outbreaks. This virus is very unpredictable. This doesn’t mean Mexico should let down its guard. The virus can come back in a second wave.” While the disease is not a severe threat to wealthy countries like the United States, it is the duty of every country to do what it can to help prevent this disease from becoming a significant global problem.

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