Swine flu: what went wrong?

  • Published 08/01/13

Although the H1N1 ‘swine flu’ pandemic of 2009-10 was less severe than anticipated, the event revealed weaknesses in the world’s current configuration of planning for and responding to pandemic influenza, according to new research outlined in this briefing.

Science, public health policy makers and people worldwide were confounded by the uncertainty, complexity and politics inherent in influenza – as well as the high emotions that come with pandemics.

Amid this confusion, the global and national institutions responsible for protecting public health were shown to be over-reliant on a reductive, science-led approach that prioritised a one-size-fits-all response, and failed to address the needs and priorities of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

This briefing accompanies the STEPS working paper To Pandemic or Not? Reconfiguring Global Responses to Influenza.