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Swine flu could be less severe than feared, US health secretary says

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Matthew Weaver, Alok Jha, Polly Curtis and Severin Carrell
London Guardian
Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The swine flu virus could turn out to be less severe than previously feared, the US government said today, as one more new case of the outbreak was confirmed in the UK.

Kathleen Sebelius, making her first speech as the US health secretary, said: “We are cautiously optimistic that what we are seeing right now is presenting itself as a much milder virus than the initial cases that presented themselves in Mexico.”

But the British government’s chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, today warned it would be “premature” to assume the virus was a mild infection.

His comments came as the World Health Organisation said it had started to distribute 2.4m treatments of antiviral drugs to 72 countries “most in need”.

It declined to name the countries but confirmed that they included Mexico, which has been hardest hit by the outbreak with 590 laboratory-confirmed cases and 25 deaths, according to WHO figures.

Donald predicted that a second, larger wave of infections could be expected during the usual flu season in the autumn and winter.

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This article was posted: Tuesday, May 5, 2009 at 10:31 am

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