WHO Revising Pandemic Standards
New criteria will focus on actual risk, not just geographic spread
By Sam Biddle,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2009 11:45 AM CDT
A women wears a protective face mask as she walks out of a hospital in Manila.   (AP Photo/ Pat Roque)
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(Newser) – The WHO will revise its policy for announcing the global threat of diseases in response to discontent with their alerts regarding the swine flu outbreak, the New York Times reports. The WHO’s deputy director says the new criteria will include an assessment of actual harm to people, as opposed to the prior emphasis on geographic spread. The changes mean that swine flu will probably not be declared a pandemic.

“We’re trying to walk a fine line between not raising panic and not being complacent,” the WHO official said. Some countries were displeased with the WHO’s response to swine flu, accusing it of creating a panic not in line with the strain’s deadliness. “There’s nothing like reality for telling you whether something is working or not," said the deputy director general. "Rigidly adhering to something that is not working would not be very helpful.”