‘100 times worse than Covid pandemic’: Experts on risk of H5N1 bird flu outbreak | World News - Hindustan Times
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‘100 times worse than Covid pandemic’: Experts on risk of H5N1 bird flu outbreak

Apr 05, 2024 07:57 AM IST

Experts raised concerns over the threat of a new pandemic during a recent briefing where researchers discussed the H5N1 strain of bird flu.

Experts raised concerns over the potential rapid spread of the bird flu pandemic, which may lead to an exceptionally high fatality rate and can be “100 times worse than the Covid pandemic”, reported the Daily Mail, a UK-based tabloid.

The potential threat of a bird flu pandemic can be worse than Covid, say experts.(AFP)
The potential threat of a bird flu pandemic can be worse than Covid, say experts.(AFP)

The report cited experts who raised concerns over the threat of a new pandemic during a recent briefing where researchers discussed the H5N1 strain of bird flu. The virus is approaching a critical threshold, and has the potential to cause a global pandemic, said scientists.

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Read more: Avian Flu threat grows: Second human case confirmed in U.S., first in Texas

Dr Suresh Kuchipudi, a prominent bird flu researcher in Pittsburgh, warned during the briefing that H5N1 flu can cause a pandemic due to its ability to infect a wide range of mammals, including humans. “We are getting dangerously close to this virus potentially causing a pandemic,” he said.

“We are not really talking about a virus that is yet to make a jump, we are talking about a virus that is globally present, already infecting a range of mammals and is circulating… It is really high time that we are prepared,” Dr Kuchipudi said during the briefing.

Another expert, John Fulton, emphasised that the potential H5N1 pandemic could be extremely severe, making it far deadlier than the Covid-19 pandemic.

Read more: Avian flu cases in Mammals raise concerns in US states as scientists warn against ‘high-likely’ spread to humans

Fulton, who is a pharmaceutical company consultant, said, “This appears to be 100 times worse than Covid, or it could be if it mutates and maintains its high case fatality rate. Once it’s mutated to infect humans, we can only hope that the [fatality rate] drops.”

World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that 52 out of every 100 patients infected with H5N1 virus have died since 2003, making its fatality rate over 50 per cent. Meanwhile, the current Covid fatality rate is 0.1 per cent, dropping down from 20 per cent from the start of the pandemic.

Read more: What is Avian flu that's wreaking havoc in California? Symptoms and treatment in humans and pets

Out of the total 887 reported cases of the bird flu virus, 462 deaths were recorded, according to WHO data.

The Daily Mail report came soon after outbreaks of avian flu were reported in a poultry facility in Michigan and an egg producer in Texas. Reports have also surfaced of dairy cows contracting bird flu, and the first documented case of a human getting the virus from a mammal.

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