CDC Takes Preemptive Measures for a Potential Outbreak

US health officials are taking action to prepare for a potential bird flu pandemic, following an outbreak in Cambodia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it is prepared, with several vaccine and drug candidates in development, and national testing capacity being increased.

CDC taking measures to prepare for potential bird flu pandemic

The H5N1 bird flu strain has decimated bird populations worldwide, with over 15 million birds killed by the virus and over 200 million culled to stop its spread.

Last week, a father and daughter in Cambodia were diagnosed with the virus, sparking concerns that it was spreading between humans for the first time in decades.

However, health officials have deemed this “unlikely” and stated the pair likely contracted the virus from an infected bird.

John Barnes, the CDC’s lead for its Influenza Genomics team, stated during a webinar that the agency’s priorities are to remain vigilant and prepared.

The CDC is monitoring the situation closely, conducting viral genomic analysis, and developing pandemic vaccine risk mitigation plans in case a vaccine is needed for H5N1.

Additionally, the CDC is working on developing a specific test for H5N1, either in-house or with the help of commercial companies, and developing candidate vaccine viruses for this strain.

CDC’s pandemic preparedness plans against H5N1

Dr. Barnes added that several vaccine and drug candidates are already being developed and the CDC expects them to provide strong protection.

Most of these strains have been shown to be effective against antiviral treatments. The agency is also working on candidate vaccine viruses for this strain, which were added to manufacturing in early 2022.

The candidate vaccine virus is identical to the mink H5 for the part that matters, HA1, making it a good candidate.

The COVID-19 pandemic caught the world off guard, forcing countries to rely on lockdowns and other measures to reduce the spread of the virus, while vaccines, drugs, and tests were rapidly developed.

The CDC is determined not to make the same mistake twice. It is taking proactive steps to prepare for a potential bird flu pandemic.

The threat of a bird flu pandemic has long been a concern for health officials, as the H5N1 virus has been known to jump from birds to humans.

The virus is highly infectious, with a mortality rate of around 60%, making it a significant threat to public health if it were to spread widely among the human population.

The CDC’s pandemic preparedness plans include developing and stockpiling vaccines and antiviral drugs, increasing national testing capacity, and improving surveillance and monitoring capabilities to detect and respond to outbreaks quickly.

One of the key challenges in preparing for a potential bird flu pandemic is the need to develop and distribute vaccines quickly.

Unlike other types of viruses, such as the flu, H5N1 is not currently included in seasonal flu vaccines, meaning a separate vaccine would need to be developed and distributed in the event of an outbreak.