- Post pandemic phase is when most people have some immunity to a new virus
- In post pandemic the flu due to the virus may occur on a seasonal basis
- H1N1 virus commonly known as the swine flu is in a post pandemic period
New Delhi: Currently the world is grappling with a new strain of a virus, about which very little is known and it has in a short span of time spread to most countries in the world to infect millions. The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that the virus will be with us for long time, the virus will be with us for a long time, given that a vaccine is still about two years away. So while all over the world a new way to live with this virus is being figured out, WHO talks about a post-pandemic stage. It is when people in all age groups have contracted the disease and have some immunity to the new virus, it is referred to as the post-pandemic, explains the World Health Organization. After a disease has moved on the post-pandemic period, it is expected that the pandemic virus will behave as a seasonal influenza A virus.
At this stage, WHO says that it is important to maintain surveillance and update pandemic preparedness and response plans accordingly.
When it comes to the novel coronavirus, the WHO asserts that it’s a new virus, so it is currently unknown when it will be able to reach the post-pandemic stage. However, the last pandemic to reach the post-pandemic period is the H1N1 virus commonly known as the swine flu in 2010.
Swine flu is human respiratory infection caused by an influenza strain that started in pigs and then transmitted to humans. It was first recognised as a pandemic in 2009, after WHO stated that as many as 1.4 billion people of a total 6.8 billion people in 194 countries HAD contracted the virus. The worst hit countries in the pandemic were USA, United Kingdom, Russia and Mexico to name a few.
A vaccine to prevent H1N1 was developed by the end of 2009.
In 2010, WHO declared the virus to be in the post-pandemic phase, after it claimed an estimated approximately 575,400 lives. On August 10, 2010, the World Health Organization declared the H1N1 influenza pandemic over, saying worldwide flu activity had returned to typical seasonal patterns.
In the post-pandemic period, cases and outbreaks due to the H1N1 (2009) virus are expected to continue to occur. In some years, the impact can be mild while in other years it can be quite severe, says WHO.
In the modern day the swine flu circulates as a seasonal flu virus, which can be transmitted through human-to-human contact.
The Organization says that while it is difficult to predict where and when the swine flu outbreak may take place, the number of cases of the virus may depend upon several factors, mainly country’s healthcare system, immunisation coverage and citizens’ immunity to the virus.
After a disease is declared post pandemic, in this case the H1N1, WHO suggests following of three guidelines for the countries – monitoring, vaccination and clinical management.
WHO recommends in-depth surveillance during the post-pandemic period. This mainly includes monitoring for unusual events, such as clusters of severe respiratory illness or death and investigating severe or unusual cases.
Vaccination remains important as a means of reducing the morbidity and mortality caused by influenza viruses. WHO recommends vaccination of high-risk individuals in countries where influenza vaccines are available for the disease.
3. Clinical management
It is paramount that the people suspected of illness from influenza receive appropriate clinical care. WHO’s guidelines for clinical management, for both seasonal and pandemic influenza, asserts the importance of early recognition and appropriate treatment.
The H1N1 (2009) virus is expected to continue to circulate as a seasonal virus for some years to come. WHO’s guidelines for use of antiviral medicines, which refer to both seasonal and pandemic influenza, should continue to be followed, says the organisation.