Bird FLu pandemic could be 100 times worse than COVID: Experts

New Delhi: The H5N1 strain of bird flu has the potential of becoming a global pandemic. Experts have warned that it could be ‘100 times worse than COVID and could lead to fatalities in up to half of those infected.

In a recent briefing on H5N1, researchers expressed apprehension that the virus may be approaching a critical threshold, according to a report by UK-based tabloid Daily Mail.

Dr Suresh Kuchipudi, a prominent bird flu researcher in Pittsburgh, warned that H5N1 has the potential to cause a pandemic, given its ability to infect a range of mammalian hosts, including humans, stating, “we are getting dangerously close to this virus potentially causing a pandemic.”

‘We are not really talking about a virus that is yet to make a jump, we are talking about a virus that is globally present, already infecting a range of mammals and is circulating… It is really high time that we are prepared,” he added.

“This appears to be 100 times worse than Covid, or it could be if it mutates and maintains its high case fatality rate. Once it’s mutated to infect humans, we can only hope that the [fatality rate] drops,” John Fulton, a pharmaceutical industry consultant and founder of Canada-based pharmaceutical company BioNiagara told Daily Mail.

World Health Organisation (WHO) statistics state that 52 out of every 100 people diagnosed with H5N1 bird flu have died since 2003, with a total of 462 deaths out of 887 cases. In contrast, the current fatality rate for COVID is less than 0.1 per cent. However, at the start of the pandemic, it was around 20 per cent.

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