In a jargon-laced statement August 10, World Health Organization director-general Dr. Margaret Chan declared an end to the Swine Flu pandemic.
The United Nations’ health organization head proclaimed that the "world is no longer in phase 6 of influenza pandemic alert" and that the H1N1 influenza virus had entered into a "post-pandemic period."
The declaration was based on global evidence that that sickness caused by flu viruses is transitioning toward seasonal patterns of transmission. The U.S. Public Health Emergency determination for 2009’s H1N1 flu expired June 23, according to the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services.
NIH scientists believed H1N1, which appeared in April 2009, could out-compete seasonal flu strains this last fall, but the WHO expects "the H1N1 virus to take on the behaviour of a seasonal influenza virus." The virus will, however, continue to circulate for years, according to Chan.
The Swine Flu outbreak was largely a bust, as far as the media is concerned. Less than two months after the NIH studies dropped, other indicators showed that the global health scourge had already peaked. Researchers at Quest Diagnostics Inc. (NYSE:DGX) found that demand for the company’s 2009 H1N1 influenza virus test kit started to slide beginning Oct. 27, 2009. By December the company was announcing that H1N1 influenza had declined 75 percent since the October peak.
Still, however, the WHO warned the public to be watchful.
"Recently published studies indicate that 20 – 40 percent of populations in some areas have been infected by the H1N1 virus and thus have some level of protective immunity" Chan said. "Pandemics, like the viruses that cause them, are unpredictable. So is the immediate post-pandemic period. There will be many questions, and we will have clear answers for only some. Continued vigilance is extremely important."