In the event of a bird flu pandemic, vaccines could be available within 4 months, according to the World Health Organization

In the event of a bird flu pandemic, vaccines could be available within 4 months, according to the World Health Organization

The rapid spread of bird flu in recent years has increased fears that this virus may be the next global pandemic, although the head of influenza prevention at the World Health Organization confirms in an interview with… Evie The world is better prepared than it was before the Corona virus, and it is even possible that there will be vaccines in less than half a year.

He pointed out that it will take three to four months from the beginning of the pandemic until the first doses are available on the market. Zhang Wenqingwho for 12 years directed the World Health Organization’s Global Influenza Prevention Programme,

He explained that it is not possible to actually prepare these vaccines, as they must depend on the latest version of the virus, which causes a hypothetical pandemic.

Its genetic makeup will certainly be different from that currently found in nature, especially in migratory birds and increasingly in mammals such as seals, mink, sea lions, murres, and more recently also domestic species. com Dogs or cats

“Countries like the United States are stockpiling vaccines based on older versions of the H5N1 virus (which causes avian influenza) that might be used initially. as in He pointed out that the first doses are to buy time until the other doses are prepared with updated content and based on the new releases Chang.

Since 2020, a new evolution of avian influenza, H5N1, has spread rapidly through migratory birds throughout the Americas and cases have been increasingly documented in mammals, including cattle and goats on US farms.

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The World Health Organization is not sounding the alarm after cases appear in livestock

Last April, the first known transmission of this disease from a mammal to a human (a worker on a dairy farm in Texas) and the fact that the virus was found in the milk of infected cows raised concern, although the World Health Organization has so far kept the pandemic risk figure for H5N1 at “low”.

He pointed out that “since 2021, 28 cases have been recorded in humans, of which 13 belong to type” Chang. Of these 13 cases, two were confirmed in Spain, one in Chile and one in Ecuador.

Since the first cases appeared in humans 20 years ago, about 900 infections have been confirmed and more than half of the patients have died, although the expert asked that only the most serious cases, which require hospitalization, be taken into account.

Another possible explanation for this high number of deaths is that “at the moment it is an animal virus that tends to bind to human receptors in the lower respiratory tract (lungs), so it usually causes severe forms of the disease such as pneumonia.”

The virus tries to jump to new species

In general, the expert confirms, the world will be relatively prepared for a hypothetical widespread arrival of bird flu into humans, which is the type to which the H5N1 virus is trying to adapt.

He stressed, “The virus is exerting more and more pressure. It is trying to jump the species barrier and establish itself among humans. Every time it infects someone, it is an attempt.” Chang. The epidemiologist recommended that people at risk of bird flu, such as farm workers, be vaccinated against common seasonal influenza.

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Although this would not protect in principle against the first of these diseases, it would reduce the risk of the two viruses coexisting in the same human body, creating a potential fertile ground for future and dangerous mutations.

The spread of avian influenza virus in America and various species of mammals occurred in a few years (from 2020 to 2022) during which the alert level for influenza pathogens on the planet decreased, due firstly to the attention required to Covid but also due to preventive measures to limit the spread of common seasonal influenza. .

However, he pointed out ChangThe world is better prepared for potential pandemics such as those that could cause bird flu, thanks to the experiences provided by the coronavirus, as well as new tools such as vaccines.Arn Messenger was created to combat Corona VirusWhich, in his opinion, could also be adapted against the influenza virus.

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