Former CDC Chief: Bird Flu Pandemic Would Be ‘Much More Catastrophic Than Covid’

The mortality rate of H5N1 is significantly higher than that of Covid-19.

Chen Zhonghao/Xinhua via AP, file
An inflatable Covid testing lab provided by Chinese biotech company BGI Genomics at Beijing, June 23, 2020. Chen Zhonghao/Xinhua via AP, file

The former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a stark warning to Americans about the possibility of a future pandemic that could be even more devastating than Covid-19.

Dr. Robert Redfield, who is also a virologist and continues to treat Covid-19 patients, led the CDC’s initial response to the pandemic and was a member of the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force under President Trump.

“We are going to have another pandemic. I do believe it’s going to be much more catastrophic than the Covid pandemic,” Dr. Redfield said in an interview with The Daily Signal.

Dr. Redfield predicts that the next pandemic will likely be caused by the bird flu, also known as H5N1. The mortality rate of H5N1 is significantly higher than that of Covid-19, with 52 percent of the 888 infected patients having died since 2003.

“Covid’s mortality was about 0.6 percent,” Dr. Redfield said. “Bird flu’s mortality is going to be north of 5 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, 20 percent. It’s going to be catastrophic.”

With more than 100 million chickens and turkeys already infected in the United States, Dr. Redfield pointed out that bird flu has also been detected in 27 different mammalian species. While the current risk to humans remains low, he cautioned that an incident similar to the Covid-19 lab leak could hasten the transmission of bird flu to humans.

“This is why I’ve called for a moratorium on gain-of-function research until we can have a broader public debate about it,” he said. “I’m not convinced it needs to be done. I don’t think there’s really any benefit from it. Some of my colleagues disagree with me, but I think we shouldn’t do it until we know how we do it in a safe, responsible, and effective way and we clearly can’t do that at the present time.”


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