With close to 10,000 confirmed cases of the A/H1N1 virus in at least 40 countries, we have an epidemic on our hands. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called for global solidarity in combating this disease, which has its highest numbers in the United States–and highest death counts in Mexico–so far.
“Solidarity in the face of this particular outbreak must mean that all have access to drugs and vaccines. It means that virus samples and data are shared,” he said to the 62nd World Health Assembly on Tuesday.
Thankfully most human infections have been mild, with 83 deaths attributed to the disease. Besides the United States, Mexico and Canada, the countries that have been hit hardest by the virus, other countries that have reported over 100 cases include Britain, Spain, and Japan.
Among the countries working on a vaccine, Russia has had no confirmed cases of the virus. Media reports from the country say, however, that a vaccine may be available within months.
There are also reports that older people may not be as vulnerable to infection, as people born before 1957 may have already been exposed to an earlier strain. Blood tests have revealed that these people may even already have antibodies that can kll the virus. Almost half of the people infected with A/H1N1, also known as the swine flu, are between the ages of 19 and 40.
Young or old, it is clear that the global community does need to join hands in solving this possible pandemic. As new case counts continue to rise daily, the time for a vaccine is now.