No evidence WHO in cahoots with vaccine makers: members

May 20, 2011

The World Health Organisation had problems handling the swine flu epidemic, but there was no evidence it tried to boost vaccine makers, the UN body's member countries agreed on Friday.

The WHO's 193 member states, gathered for their 64th annual assembly, adopted an experts' report into the management of the 2009-2010 pandemic that killed more than 18,000 people and affected some 214 countries and territories.

"The resolutions (of the report) were adopted this morning in the plenary session," WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said.

Among others, the Council of Europe had called for a probe into the WHO's handling of the outbreak, which it said caused an unjustified scare and waste of public money as countries stocked up on 78 million doses of vaccines, many of which were left unused and later destroyed.

Some commentators had accused the WHO of rushing to announce a pandemic and "suggested the reason was to enrich ", the report of the WHO-appointed experts panel said.

But they found "no evidence of attempted or actual influence by commercial interests on advice given to or decisions made by WHO."

While there were some shortcomings, including "the absence of a consistent, measurable and understandable depiction of severity of the pandemic", the experts said there was "no evidence of malfeasance."

"No critic of WHO has produced any direct evidence of commercial influence on decision-making."

Warning that the world is ill-prepared to handle a severe , the report makes 15 recommendations for technical, logistic and policy improvements and the creation of a contingency fund of at least $100 million (71 million euros) for similar public-health emergencies.

"Some recommendations will require resources to implement, but none is more expensive than the cost of doing nothing," states the report.

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