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Flu Experts Discuss the Danger of H5N1 Amid Record Bird Deaths Worldwide

The expert influenza scientists in the world gathered this week to talk about the danger presented to people by a strain of the H5N1 avian flu that has recently been responsible for unprecedented numbers of bird fatalities worldwide.

Ayushi Sikarwar
Bird Flu
Bird Flu (Representational Image)

The top flu experts around the world gathered this week to talk about the danger presented to people by a strain of the H5N1 avian flu that has recently been responsible for unprecedented numbers of bird deaths worldwide.

To choose which seasonal flu strain to include in the vaccine for the upcoming winter season, in this instance for the northern hemisphere, a group of scientists, regulators, and vaccine producers gather twice a year.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and global flu specialists, the gathering is also an opportunity to talk about the possibility of the pandemic animal virus spreading to people, and H5N1 clade 2.3.4.4b was a major subject at this week's meeting.

The international organization will provide a briefing on the seasonal flu vaccine's ingredients and spillover dangers later on Friday.

Since the H5N1 clade 2.3.4.4b emerged in 2020, experts have been monitoring it, but recent reports of mass deaths in infected mammals, including seals, and bears, and the possibility of mammal-to-mammal transmission on a Spanish mink farm last year, have caused worry.

The WHO presently rates the danger to humans as low, despite the fact that there have only been a small number of human cases.

Potential vaccine development was also considered by experts. Two influenza virus strains that are closely related to the circulating H5N1 virus are already present in WHO-affiliated laboratories; if a human vaccine is required, these strains could be used by vaccine producers.

Following the September 2022 WHO flu meeting, laboratories around the globe are presently evaluating how closely both of them match the strain spreading among animals to ascertain whether any additional updates are required.

Many businesses that manufacture seasonal flu vaccines are also able to produce pandemic flu vaccines. To evaluate vaccines based on one of the closely related strains, for instance, GSK and CSL Seqirus are already collaborating with the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

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