Flu pandemic likelihood increasing as new strains emerge, UNSW researchers warn
“Some of the reasons involve things like climate change and its impact on pathogens, changes like urbanisation, but none of these things have increased at the rate the virus is increasing so there’s something else going on.”
The Spanish flu, which killed 50 million people in 1918-19, was followed by a 40-year hiatus during which no new flu strains emerged, and then a 10-year gap from the one after that to the next.
But the emergence of strains has gathered pace in the past 15 years.
Professor MacIntyre said a repeat of the Spanish flu was “very possible” and countries and sectors such as health, agriculture, defence and emergency services needed to collaborate better on how to respond in such an event.