May 21, 2011

Members Say No Evidence WHO Enriched Vaccine Makers

Member countries of the World Health Organization agree that problems existed in how the swine flu epidemic was handled by the organization, but found no evidence to suggest that it was in cahoots with vaccine makers.

At the 64th annual WHO assembly, its 193 member states embraced an expert's report about the management of the 2009-2010 pandemic that killed over 18,000 people and affected at least 214 countries and territories, reports AFP.

"The resolutions (of the report) were adopted this morning in the plenary session," WHO spokesperson Fadela Chaib says.

An investigation into the WHO's handling of the outbreak was brought on by the Council of Europe, along with other critics who accuse the organization of creating an unjustified scare that wasted a lot of public money as countries stocked up on 78 million doses of vaccines, most of which were left unused and later destroyed.

Critics have also accused the WHO of hastily rushing to announce a pandemic, going as far as saying that "the reason was to enrich vaccine manufacturers," according to the WHO-appointed experts panel, which found "no evidence of attempted or actual influence by commercial interests on advice given to or decisions made by WHO."

Furthermore, the experts found "no evidence of malfeasance," even as it admits to some shortcomings that included "the absence of a consistent, measurable and understandable depiction of severity of the pandemic."

The experts concluded that "no critic of WHO has produced any direct evidence of commercial influence on decision-making."

The world is not prepared to handle a severe pandemic, the experts report says. It came up with 15 recommendations for technical, logistic and policy improvements, and suggests that a contingency fund of at least $100 million be created for future public health emergencies, reports AFP.

The report states that "some recommendations will require resources to implement, but none is more expensive than the cost of doing nothing."


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