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WHO to Study H1N1 Response Amid False Pandemic Debate

The World Health Organization said it plans to conduct a review of its response to swine flu as policymakers in Europe prepare for an "urgent debate" on the influenza pandemic.

WHO hasn't yet decided when its response to the contagion will be examined because the pandemic is ongoing, said Christy Feig, a WHO spokeswoman in Geneva. Yesterday, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe said "false pandemics, a threat to health" will be a major theme of its next plenary session, with a debate slated for Jan. 28.

Health authorities worldwide are assessing whether their response to swine flu is justified by its threat as cases retreat in the U.S. and Western Europe. The new H1N1 virus, which has targeted children and younger adults, has so far resulted in fewer deaths than attributed to seasonal strains, which kills mostly the frail elderly.

"WHO will certainly take a look at how things went and how things could be made better," Feig said in a telephone interview today. "It's not necessarily a reaction to criticism, it's just what you do after a big project."