Humanity would be virtually powerless to stop the spread of a killer flu virus that could take 33 million lives in just 200 days, experts have warned.
Professor Robert Dingwall, a flu expert, said that covering your mouth when you sneeze and washing your hands is the most effective ways to stop the virus spreading – but even these measures are unlikely to be enough.
His warning comes after Dr. Jonathan Quick, Chair of the Global Health Council, warned that a deadly flu mutation could take place any day and prove to be the deadliest pandemic in human history.
Underlining humanity’s vulnerability to the threat, Professor Dingwall told The Sun: ‘Flu is very infectious and there is nothing much you can do to stop it moving about the planet.
‘People tried in 2009 with a screening at airports but it doesn’t work because people are infectious for around four days before they get symptoms.
‘There is a very limited amount you can do, there are personal hygiene measures, washing your hands and trying to avoid putting your hands on contaminated surfaces in public than in your mouth.
‘But frankly, you’re just as likely to catch it from passing a person in the street who’s sneezed.’
He spoke out after Dr. Quick warned conditions were right for a flu that would wipe out millions.
‘The big one is coming: a global virus pandemic that could kill 33 million victims in its first 200 days,’ he wrote on Tuesday.
‘Within the ensuing two years, more than 300 million people could perish worldwide.
‘At the extreme, with a disrupted supply of food and medicines and without enough survivors to run computer or energy systems, the global economy would collapse. Starvation and looting could lay waste to parts of the world.’
Dr. Quick warns a mutation of the avian flu could wipe out a significant portion of the globe, as the strain can often mix with influenza in other wild animals before it reaches humans, making it more powerful and sometimes more deadly.
‘Somewhere out there, a flu virus is boiling up in the bloodstream of a bird, bat, monkey or pig, preparing to jump to a human being,’ he wrote.
‘When that combination from birds and beasts finds its way into a person, the resulting new human strain can kill us more easily because it is unknown to us and our bodies have zero immunity to it. This is most likely how the Spanish flu [which killed 100 million in 1918] took hold.’
One such new strain, which is believed to be partially responsible for a 40 percent increase in flu-related deaths in the US and UK, is dubbed the ‘Aussie flu’ because it originated in Australia.
Dr Quick also warns society is setting itself up for the incoming pandemic by continuing to purchase cheap meat from factory farms, which the professor refers to as ‘fetid incubators of disease’.
‘These giant industrial farms were the birthplace of H1N1 swine flu that emerged in 2009 and killed up to an estimated 575,400 people worldwide,’ he wrote, noting the strain originally had three human flu genes before picking up segments of two different bird flu from the farm.
‘Factory farms could very likely be the birthplace of the next killer pandemic. The renegade influenza viruses they spawn could one day annihilate the people they feed.’
WHY IS H3N2 CALLED AUSSIE FLU? HOW AUSTRALIA WAS ROCKED BY THE KILLER STRAIN THAT HAS SPREAD TO UK, US AND EUROPE
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