WHO Denies Claims that Swine Flu Threat was Overblown

The World Health Organisation (WHO) denied on Tuesday that it was unduly influenced by drugs companies to exaggerate the dangers of the H1N1 flu virus.

Pharmaceutical firms picked up multi-million dollar vaccination contracts when the United Nations health agency declared the flu a pandemic last June.

Although many millions around the world have been infected with H1N1, and many thousands have died, the pandemic proved milder than health experts had originally feared.

The World Health Organization says its response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic could have been better, but it was not unduly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, nor was it swept away by media hype.

Swine flu has turned out to be a lesser threat than expected—a blessing that, surprisingly, has the World Health Organization in a tough spot. The agency is facing claims that experts it used to assess the H1N1 pandemic were being paid by drug companies, Reuters reports. Those experts, say some media in France and Britain in particular, would benefit from exaggerating its impact if their firms received big contracts to develop vaccines, Reuters reports.