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 June 15, 2009
International SOS Paper On Retooling Pandemic Plans Before Next Wave

 International SOS Drs Myles Druckman, Craig Stark, and Neil Nerwich have authored "Influenza H1N1 : Lessons Learnt, Retooling the Plan before the Next Wave," examining what has been learned to date from the H1N1 "swine flu" pandemic and how organisations can take this time to adjust their pandemic plans. In recent surveys conducted by International SOS and The Conference board, 53% of participants indicate that they have developed pandemic plans. Furthermore, 55% of these participants have activated these pandemic plans in response to H1N1.

The paper explains how the current H1N1 pandemic is relatively "mild" and this scenario revealed weaknesses in many pandemic plans. Many organizations have based their plans the World Health Organisation (WHO) pandemic phases incorporating "triggers" by its pandemic phases. On June 11, 2009, the WHO raised the pandemic alert system to its highest level, Phase 6. While this phase acknowledges that the virus is widespread and that there is sustained community-level transmission, it does not indicate that the virus is severe. Severity can be considered the virulence of the influenza virus (ability to cause significant illness and death) and the contagiousness of the virus (ability to rapidly move through a significant portion of the community).

Additionally, the paper focuses on the ability to differentiate between regions affected by the pandemic virus and view its impact. Impact can be defined as the social and business disruption caused by the pandemic virus. For example, while the USA and Mexico are considered affected countries, businesses were implementing more aggressive interventions in Mexico than they were in Seattle.

As the world's largest global medical and security assistance organisation, International SOS is advising its members to examine their pandemic plans and adjust them according to the lessons learned from this pandemic. When properly developed and implemented, pandemic plans will help protect health of employees while maintaining an organization's essential services and business continuity.