WHO says pandemic not as serious as anticipated

The Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Margaret Chan, admitted the H1N1 swine flu pandemic turned out to be not as serious as anticipated, according to reports.

But, speaking at a meeting of the WHO in Geneva, she insisted that it was no time to relax as the pandemic was not over.

Chan said her agency was expecting an event similar to the 1918 pandemic, which killed 50m people. Instead what actually occurred was a much milder pandemic.

"For me, the best health news of the previous decade is the fact that the long overdue influenza pandemic has been so moderate in its impact ... The virus did not mutate to a more virulent form. ... The vaccine proved safe and a close match with circulating virus. Things could have gone wrong in any of these areas," she said.

Chan, who has faced criticism for scare mongering, defended her decision to err on the side of caution.