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Other leading officials agreed.
"There was nothing in those guidelines that was not based on the best science available," said Michael Osterholm, a flu expert at the University of Minnesota who has advised the U.S. on pandemic preparations. He said the scientists consulted were the world's top flu experts and to not include them would have been a major flaw.
Osterholm said that because flu viruses are unpredictable, it was impossible for anyone to predict last spring that swine flu would not evolve into a more lethal strain.
He slammed the BMJ article, calling it "irresponsible and reckless," and said its authors had not substantiated their claims WHO behaved inappropriately during the pandemic. "It's akin to shouting 'fire' in a crowded theatre without regard to the consequences," Osterholm said.
He said while WHO should be subjected to the highest scrutiny, BMJ's accusations had done "untold damage to the public health infrastructure of the world."
Harvey Fineberg, the president of the Institute of Medicine in Washington, said the review panel which he heads will hear from critics of WHO when it next meets from June 30 to July 2.
A report published by the Council of Europe last week said the guidelines from WHO, European Union agencies and national governments led to a "waste of large sums of public money and unjustified scares and fears about the health risks faced by the European public." The agency is not an EU body.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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