After it was first confirmed in Mexico this April, the H1N1 virus — popularly known as swine flu — ruled headlines for the next four months. The media frenzy has subsided but has the flu? Dr Salim J. Habayeb, World Health Organization representative in India, updates HT on whether we still need to worry about the virus.
Is the worst of the pandemic over?
It is my personal view that the pandemic is not over. The bulk of the global population is still susceptible.
So we should brace ourselves for more waves?
The good news is that the pandemic caused by this specific viral strain will subside when widespread immunity is generated through natural infections and vaccinations.
Is screening at airports necessary?
Travel measures may possibly be useful in the early stages. But at the pandemic phase 6, such containment measures are of limited value.
Why is India taking longer than the West to develop indigenous vaccines?
The countries that have developed H1N1 vaccines had the production track ready. If I grossly oversimplify, they had only to introduce a new strain. This strain change is anyway made each year with seasonal vaccines. In India, since we did not have production of seasonal influenza vaccines, the cycle had to be developed from scratch.