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H5N1 Pandemic Test Case -- Biden Administration Not Ready

: Betsy Mccaughey on

The H5N1 virus, which for 30 years affected mostly birds, is rapidly evolving and spreading globally. The Biden administration is dangerously unready.

Over the last two years, H5N1 has jumped from birds to mammals, infecting at least 26 species.

South American scientists publishing in the prestigious journal Nature Communications report massive "sea lion die-offs" and warn about avian influenza viruses "potentially evolving into the next global pandemic."

Here in the United States, dairy cows, never before vulnerable to bird flu, are infected in six states.

Is the public in danger? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk is "low" but is advising states to be ready with rapid tests. In the U.S., only two human cases have been reported; neither person died.

But according to the World Health Organization, since 2003, nearly 1,000 people in other parts of the world have contracted the virus -- almost always from touching a sick or dead bird or bird feces. Four hundred sixty-three died.

 

Some food safety experts caution against eating runny egg yolks, cheeses made with raw milk, and foods made with uncooked eggs.

There are too many unknowns to predict whether H5N1 will kill people in the U.S. It seems unlikely, but better to be prepared. Here's what needs to change:

1. Don't Censure the Scientists

Like H5N1, COVID-19 was full of unknowns. The federal government's biggest mistake was to aim for an illusion of consensus rather than welcoming debate. The feds silenced anyone, including scientists, who disagreed. The result was a long string of deadly mistakes, from shuttering businesses to mandatory masking and school closures.

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