HONG KONG — A leading virus expert urged health authorities around the world Sunday to stay vigilant even though the recent swine flu pandemic was less deadly than expected, warning that bird flu could spark the next global outbreak.
A World Health Organization official also defended the UN's health body against accusations that it wasted governments' money and enriched pharmaceutical companies with its strong warnings during the swine flu outbreak's early days last year.
WHO declared the swine flu pandemic over last month. The latest death toll is just over 18,600 — far below the millions that were once predicted. The head of the global health body has credited good preparation and luck, since the H1N1 swine flu virus didn't mutate as some had feared.