Michele J. Orza, ScD
In June 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the world was in the grip of an influenza pandemic. By the time the pandemic had largely run its course in August 2010, more than 214 countries had reported laboratory-confirmed cases of what is now called 2009 H1N1 influenza. In the United States, which saw the first cases in April 2009, the President declared a state of emergency, as did many states and localities. The nation benefited in many respects from prior experience and planning, and rapid identification of the novel virus by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was widely praised. But public confidence in the government’s response was undermined when vaccine supply initially fell short of expectations set by federal officials. Although this was the first pandemic declared in over four decades, public health experts believe that it may not be long until the world confronts the next one. Most would agree that the 2009 H1N1 pandemic was not as bad as it could have been, the response at every level could have been better, and it is important to learn everything possible from the experience because the next pandemic could be far worse.
This Forum session provided an overview of the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic; the global, U.S. federal, and state of Virginia’s responses to it; lessons learned at all levels; and implications for federal public health preparedness policy.
Harvey V. Fineberg, MD, PhD
Institute of Medicine
The National Academies
International Health Regulations Review Committee
The World Health Organization
Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH
Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response
U.S. Public Health Service
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Karen Remley, MD, MBA
State Health Commissioner
Virginia Department of Health
Sarah A. Lister, DVM, MPH
Specialist in Public Health and Epidemiology
Domestic Social Policy Division
Congressional Research Service
Materials distributed at session: Preface and Executive Summary from the report of the International Health Regulations Review Committee; the full report is available online.
For more information on the H1N1 flu, see the H1N1 page at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention's website.
See also related Forum products, including:
- "Managing Uncertainty: Swine Flu Then and Now" (Forum Session, July 10, 2009)
- "Governmental Public Health: An Overview of State and Local Public Health Agencies" (Background Paper No. 77, August 18, 2010)
- "As the World Turns: Evolving Global Health Thinking and U.S. Policy" (Forum Session, May 7, 2010)
- "Strong as the Weakest Link: Medical Response to a Catastrophic Event" (Background Paper No. 65, August 8, 2008)
- "Tending to Richmond's Children: Community Strategies to Bridge Service Gaps" (Site Visit, October 23-24, 2008)