WHO Poised for Next Health Emergency, Recommends Vaccines Against Bird Flu

Sonis Photography / shutterstock.com
Sonis Photography / shutterstock.com
Right on cue, the World Health Organization is ramping up its concerns over the next big public health emergency. The WHO is now warning about an increasing risk of bird flu transmitting to humans.
Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a contagious viral disease primarily affecting birds caused by influenza type A viruses. While these viruses naturally spread among wild aquatic birds globally, they can infect domestic poultry and other bird species. The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has shown an alarmingly high mortality rate among the few hundred individuals infected, although no instances of human-to-human transmission have been documented.
However, the WHO has noted that bird flu can be transmitted to mammals, including wild animals like seals, bears, foxes, skunks, farmed minks, domestic pets, and even zoo animals such as tigers and leopards. They warn that the virus has crossed from poultry and ducks to mammals, raising the possibility of further evolution to infect humans and spread among them.
Notably, there is an ongoing outbreak of the H5N1 virus among dairy cows in the United States, prompting experts to emphasize the importance of close monitoring and investigation to understand the spread of the virus among cattle. Although bird flu viruses typically don’t infect humans, some cases have occurred. The severity varies depending on the strain and the species affected, with Influenza A (H5N1) being a common variant in humans, causing severe respiratory symptoms. Those who work with poultry, waterfowl, and livestock are at higher risk of exposure.
The virus has appeared in 16 herds of cattle in Texas, surprising experts who previously believed cows were not susceptible to infection. This development raises concerns about the potential for H5N1 to transfer to the human population. One dairy farmer in Texas has contracted the bird flu, the first example of the virus’ transmission through contact with an infected mammal.
Dr. Jeremy Farrar, the WHO’s chief scientist, raised concerns at a press conference in Geneva. Farrar cautioned that as the virus spreads among new mammalian hosts, it will eventually spread from human to human. In the recent cattle outbreak in Texas, one person was diagnosed with bird flu after close contact with presumed infected dairy cows. Still, there is currently no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

Farrar claims that the mortality rate of H5N1 is 52% of all cases in humans. Farrar characterized the current bird flu outbreak as a “global zoonotic animal pandemic.”

The WHO is already recommending developing vaccines and “therapeutics” for H5N1 ahead of the expected “pandemic.” The organization has stressed the importance of diagnosing the virus and “enabling a swift response” should human-to-human transmission occur. Scientists are already comparing the trajectory of the bird flu to COVID-19.

But, according to experts, the framework for controlling the bird flu is already in place. Accessing personal protective equipment like masks, gowns, and goggles has become much easier since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The Strategic National Stockpile has an abundance of supplies to support farms, healthcare systems, and other affected entities. The stockpile also includes tens of millions of doses of Tamiflu, an antiviral medication effective against seasonal flu and expected to work well against H5N1.

Vaccines are already being eyed as a preventive measure. The federal government contracts with three manufacturers capable of producing avian flu vaccines. These manufacturers could amp up the production of 125 million doses in about 130 days, but since this vaccine requires two doses, these would only cover a part of the U.S. population. Health agencies worldwide are considering mRNA vaccines to support these traditional vaccines, like the controversial ones used for COVID-19.

It’s a convenient time to announce a potential pandemic, and the WHO is ensuring that fears are raised long before any restrictions or mandates are announced. But pandemic-weary Americans might not be as receptive as they hope, and it’s unlikely they will “flock” to their doctors for the H5N1 vaccines.

Americans’ responses will most likely prove that they think government-inspired pandemics are for the birds and will see this tending fiasco as just another attempt by the WHO to use “fowl” measures to control the masses.