Bloomberg: WHO readies phase 6 pandemic alert

World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan is wrestling with a thorny dilemma: How do you declare a phase 6 pandemic--the first warning in 41 years that a flu virus is entrenched in different continents and spreading from person to person--without causing a global panic?

Citing sources, Bloomberg reports that Chan will make the announcement in the next 10 days, but is trying to find a way to soften the blow by reassuring people that the new flu usually causes nothing more than mild symptoms. Over the past few years, fears of a deadly bird flu pandemic caused countries to adopt a variety of plans in the event the WHO declared a level 6 pandemic--including shutting borders, banning events and curtailing travel. Now the health organization wants to factor in the level of severity in its pandemic alert system.

The announcement will also almost certainly spur on vaccine developers who have been working feverishly to develop new jabs to guard people against A/H1N1. A host of major vaccine manufacturers plan to roll out a new vaccine later this summer as mass orders roll in from countries around the world, including the United States.

- read the report from Bloomberg