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Wed 6 Jan 2010 02:22 PM

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Pandemics will be a bigger killer than wars - expert

Health chief tells UAE conference that swine flu type viruses pose greater threat to life.

Pandemics will be a bigger killer than wars - expert
SWINE FLU: A health expert told a conference in Al Ain on Wednesday that pandemics would kill more people than wars in the 21st century. (Getty Images)

Pandemics will be responsible for more deaths than war in the 21st century, a global health expert told a conference in Al Ain on Wednesday.

Sir Richard Feachem, professor of global health at the University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Berkeley, told delegates that deaths from viruses such as the H1N1 strain would far outstrip those lost in battle, and warned that worldwide, there are wide gaps in pandemic preparedness.

“Short of a nuclear war, there is no way war and conflict could match the number of deaths generated by the spread of pandemics,” he said.

“If swine flu becomes highly virulent, things could become much worse... Global governance for pandemic preparedness is in poor shape, and is not in place to allow countries to join hands and cope.”

According to World Health Organisation data, the Eastern Mediterranean Region has reported more than 28,700 cases of swine flu. Of the 22 countries in the region, Kuwait has recorded the highest number of cases with 6,640 H1N1 infections.

In second place is Saudi Arabia, with 4,119 H1N1 infections, followed by Oman with 3,829 and Egypt with 2,494.

Sir Feachem, who was speaking during the Global Healthcare Conference, at UAE University, noted the swine flu pandemic had been comparatively mild, but said a superbug with a higher fatality rate could wipe out millions.

“[If] a new pandemic develops that, unlike H1N1, has a high fatality rate and is easily transmitted from human to human, deaths of 100 million people is not unlikely.

"It could also cause economic collapse – people would simply stop going to work. Globally we should be ready for early identification of these new pandemics, and have in place containment and coping methods," Feachem, a former under-secretary general of the United Nations, added.

Dr Vittoria Colizza, of the Institute of Scientific Interchange. Italy, described the H1N1 pandemic as a “dress rehearsal” for a more severe virus.

“We were lucky that the H1N1 is not a particularly worrisome pandemic. We can use H1N1 as a dress rehearsal for what we did right and what we did wrong, and more importantly what we can do better next time."

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W 10 years ago

Statements like those made by Mr. Feachem of Berkeley say more about dangerous agendas in the world than about flu viruses. As in any statistical "evidence", numbers and "facts" can be manipulated according to one's agenda. The "war" in Irag is actually a prolonged occupation, and to compare a flu virus death count to an "occupation" death count tells me that there is a rotting fish somewhere in the room. This rhetoric smells badly. My big question would be "So, what is "planned" in the virus industry?" What can we expect next in "designer diseases"? I smell propaganda..

Boumediene 10 years ago

protect your childrens against flu with respiratory protection mask.i think my country , France, wants to resell his stock of vaccine, because the virus has have been mutated and this vaccine is not good now.go to issapharma.org to find a kidmask

Harvey Ellis 10 years ago

Agree with you W. Cheyenne, vaccine industry is massive and all out 'great' politicians will have vested interests there. But I wonder what the real 'hidden' agenda is? Everyone knows now that swine flu was man-made and was designed to help reduce our population