Page last updated at 18:58 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

World Health Organization to review swine flu response

By Imogen Foulkes
BBC News correspondent in Geneva

Man sneezing
Swine had been less deadly than feared

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to review its handling of the HIN1 swine flu pandemic, once it is over.

The WHO has been facing charges from some European politicians that it exaggerated the dangers of swine flu.

More than 12,700 people worldwide have died from H1N1 - but the virus has turned out to less deadly than feared.

However, the WHO initially urged rapid development of treatments and vaccines, fearing the virus had the potential to kill millions.

As a result wealthy countries spent billions on medicines which many believe are now unnecessary.

Across Europe, governments are trying to resell their stockpiles of swine flu vaccine.

The Council of Europe is planning an investigation, to begin later this month, into whether pharmaceutical companies influenced public health officials to spend money unnecessarily.

In Geneva, a WHO spokeswoman acknowledged there were questions to be answered.

She said the the review of its management of the pandemic would be conducted with independent experts, and the results would be made public.

However, the review will not begin until the pandemic itself is declared over - and that could still be months away.

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