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How large is the threat of the bird flu now

There’s an interesting report on NPR discussing the current threat of the bird flu ten years into becoming an issue. The report is based on a discussion with Dr. Anthony Fauci. Dr. Fauci is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases based in Bethesda, MD.

The reason this issue is raised is that many experts have expected the bird flu to grown into a pandemic by now. It hasn’t, and that is leading to some head scratching.

Dr. Fauci says:

There are those who say it’s been around for 10 years and it hasn’t happened yet. Therefore it just proves how difficult it is for it to happen. Then there’s another school of thought that says, ‘Hey, you know, it hasn’t happened, but why should we keep giving it the chance to happen’?

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It’s a legitimate concern for a number of reasons:

  1. More time means more chances the virus can evolve further into an easier spreading organism.
  2. The longer without a pandemic offers a better chance that governments will lower their guards.
  3. If there is less focus then the medical business community will have less incentive to continue working on anti-bird flu drugs.

The world is due for another flu pandemic, but there is no scientific consensus on whether it will be the bird flu or another strain of influenza.