WHO to update its pandemic alert

Eight months after declaring the world's first pandemic in more than four decades, the World Health Organization says it will once again summon its experts to determine if the worst of the outbreak is over.

The WHO wants to see if it should alert health authorities around the world to resume planning for more normal patterns of flu seasons. But even so, they are likely to flag the probability of new H1N1 outbreaks, as West Africa has seen recently.

"The ending of a pandemic cannot be construed an abrupt on-or-off situation," said Keiji Fukuda, the WHO's top flu expert.

The pandemic has sparked controversy around the globe as the swine flu virus turned out to be far milder than originally feared. Large majorities in many affluent countries shunned the new flu vaccine that was churned out in record time. And poor countries which couldn't afford vaccine have been left in line waiting for supplies even as the most developed nations tried to figure out what to do with their surpluses.

- here's the story from Reuters