- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 28, 2012

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The recent release of information concerning bird flu - that it only takes three mutations to become an airborne killer virus - should send shivers down every person’s spine.

Research conclusions of the past few years have revealed the Spanish flu virus of 1918 started in the southern United States and then made its way to Europe. As this virus spread through the trenches, young soldiers with healthy immune systems were struck down. It is estimated that more of our soldiers died from the virus than from German bullets and bombs.

When the war ended, the virus was taken back across the world as soldiers returned home. Many of those infected in their home countries also had strong immune systems, but they fell victim nonetheless. As there were only about 1.8 billion humans then and now there are more than 7 billion, a similar deadly virus now would kill up to 378 million people worldwide because of current rapid-transit systems around the world. This number could as much as double if a human-to-human avian flu pandemic were to emerge.

That is why the current drugs strategy is futile. Hardly any of those infected would be saved because of the time it takes to create an antidote, mass produce it and distribute it to the world - approximately six months longer than when the Spanish flu did its worst in 1918, when as many as 100 million lives were taken.

We must adopt the strategy of prevention rather than reaction, and do so before it is too late.

DAVID HILL

Chief executive

World Innovation Foundation

Huddersfield, U.K.

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