Although cluster outbreaks have occurred in Asia, Turkey, and Iraq this year, WHO refused to admit that they could be caused by human-to-human transmission, even though it was aware such transmissions were possible years earlier. Following an Indonesian outbreak that was difficult to conceal, WHO spokeswoman Maria Cheng finally admitted that there were "about a half dozen" instances of human-to-human transmission. WHO maintains that these clusters occurred due to group contact with a common infected animal source; however, no other agency has been allowed to examine the evidence to determine if WHO's conclusion is correct.
WHO stated that "even if human-to-human transmission did occur, it was in a very limited way," and immediately reassured the scientific community that it did not extend beyond the immediate community. Scientific evidence has shown that the H5N1 strain, which is deadly to humans, can be passed from person to person.
After genetic data leaked from a conference, Researcher Dr. Henry L. Niman was able to determine that although WHO did not give incorrect avian flu data, it withheld important truths. Extensive viral mutations had occurred to a greater extent than WHO implied.
Certain nations will not allow WHO to have access to or publish their genetic data, in order to have an advantage in developing vaccines that may soon have worldwide demand.