“LONDON (Reuters) – Culls of hundreds of thousands of chickens, turkeys and ducks to stem bird flu outbreaks rarely make international headlines these days, but they are a worryingly common event as the deadly virus continues its march across the globe.
As scientists delve deeper into H5N1 avian influenza, they have discovered it is only three steps way from mutating into a potentially lethal human pandemic form, adding new urgency to a debate over how to protect humans.
In 2009, during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, vaccines only became available months after the virus had spread around the world – and even then there was only enough for one in five of the world’s 7 billion people.
Next time, experts say, we need another approach.
Talk is centred on “pre-pandemic vaccination” – immunising people years in advance against a flu pandemic that has yet to happen, and may never come, rather than rushing to create vaccines once a new pandemic starts.”
Yes, well: regulars of this blog will recognise that I have been rattling on about this topic for some time now; nice to see serious heavyweights are starting to do the same thing.
Seriously, pre-emptive vaccination could almost certainly not hurt, would probably help a LOT – and would amp up production capacity for H5 and other potential pandemic influenza viruses [see Mexico H7N3 outbreak] as well, for pandemic vaccine production readiness.
And of course, you could do it all in plants. Just saying.
See on in.reuters.com