H5N1 avian influenza could acquire the ability to spread from person to person, which is likely to lead to a new pandemic for which humanity should be prepared, WHO epidemiologist Richard Peabody said in an interview with El Pais. Virus type A(H5N1) class 126.96.36.199b is highly contagious in birds, currently only transmitted between animals or from animals to humans. Doctor of Medicine, epidemiologist Vasily Vlasov explained to The Insider that many variants of bird flu, when they come to humans, really turn out to be deadly. At the same time, WHO can play it safe, since such epidemics have been predicted several times since 2000.
“We need to start with the old joke of epidemiologists that there will be a severe respiratory infection that will spread around the world and kill tens of millions of people – only we don’t know which one and when. This joke is very old, but jokes on this topic did not help humanity prepare for the coronavirus. Now it's about the old idea that such a severe respiratory infection could be a variant of the flu. Why bird? Because many variants of the flu do come from birds, and at least some of them, when they come to humans, turn out to be initially severe and deadly.
In the 21st century, for the third time, an epidemic of such bird flu is expected to occur. The previous two times were situations when avian influenza affected a large number of people, had a severe course, but did not turn into a big epidemic. Will it happen next time or just today? No one knows. WHO often warns of dangers that by and large do not materialize. But blaming them for this is stupid, because if otherwise, that is, the organization would not have warned and a big pandemic would have arisen, then this would have been much worse for the image of WHO. So you need to take this organization seriously, but on the other hand, it’s too early to dry crackers.”
Earlier, one of the UK's leading microbiologists, Dr. Simon Clark, said that the next pandemic is likely to be caused by bird flu, which will lead to a global health crisis. He is quoted by the British edition of Express. According to him, there is now an increase in the number of cases of bird flu in humans. According to the World Health Organization, 873 human cases of H5N1 have been reported, of which 458 have died. Earlier, Reuters reported the death of an 11-year-old girl in Cambodia from the H5N1 flu, which had mutations and better adapted to human cells. It is assumed that she was infected by poultry. The girl's father was also diagnosed with H5N1 flu but did not show symptoms.
The British Health Safety Agency said there was no evidence that the bird flu virus was spreading more actively among humans. At the same time, the agency is modeling two scenarios in case the situation changes, and is also studying the possibilities of identifying outbreaks among people.
The coronavirus was a “big exercise” compared to what H5N1 bird flu mutations can bring to humanity, Alexander Chepurnov, head of the laboratory for especially dangerous infections at the Federal Research Center for Fundamental and Translational Medicine, told Vedomosti. He suggested creating a vaccine in advance, because if the virus begins to spread among people, there will be no time to do anything.