EU Warning of Flu Pandemic

The drumbeat continues, just below the radar of most people. Now the EU is raising the alarm:

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The European Union could face a 21st century flu crisis killing millions of people if human and animal viruses were to converge, the bloc’s health commissioner warned on Friday.

Health Commissioner David Byrne, addressing a conference on infectious diseases, said EU member states had failed to fully prepare for virus outbreaks and that a common safety plan was urgently needed.

“With the experience of three flu pandemics in the last century we could be on the eve of a 21st century calamity,” Byrne told a conference in The Hague, referring to major outbreaks in 1918, 1957 and 1968.

“While we have witnessed the deaths of millions of animals in Europe over the past couple of years, are we prepared for the deaths of 10 or 20 million of our fellow citizens arising from the mutation of a human and animal virus that we cannot control?” he asked.

World health officials told the conference on Thursday that the threat of animal diseases spreading to humans was increasing and governments must improve coordination to prevent them from becoming pandemic.

Maybe that explains why the University of Washington is teaming up with the US Army to study the Spanish Flu virus:

A group of researchers in the Department of Microbiology at the UW School of Medicine is teaming up with researchers from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York to study the virus through a five-year, $12.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health as well as Scripps Research Institute and the Centers for Disease Control.

The funding includes $300,000 this year to develop a proper bio-containment facility for studying the pathology of the virus. Work on the facility will begin after the NIH develops its guidelines for facilities handling flu strains.

Let’s hope the NIH develops really good guidelines. The Spanish Flu killed between 40 and 50 million people in 1918.

Read The Armageddon Strain, my wife’s latest novel. It will put you off flu shots forever.

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