- Scientists warn that a global epidemic caused by some newly evolved strain of influenza is inevitable and poses an enormous threat to public health.
- The pandemic could occur soon or not for years. H5N1 bird flu has killed more than 60 people in Asia, raising alarms. Even if that outbreak wanes, however, a global surveillance network must remain alert for other threatening strains.
- Flu shots matched to the new virus will arrive too late to prevent or slow the early stages of a pandemic, but rapid response with antiviral drugs might contain an emerging flu strain at its source temporarily, buying time for international preparations.
- Severity of disease will depend on the pandemic strain. In many places, drug supplies and other health resources will be overwhelmed.