The world stands on the edge of a flu pandemic, according to the world’s leading experts. The results, they predict, will be catastrophic. Millions of deaths, economies and civil society in chaos, political life undermined or destroyed. A doomsday scenario! Such outbreaks happen two or three times every hundred years. We are due one now – and the avian flu strain H5N1 is the most likely candidate for a future pandemic. The last catastrophic flu pandemic was in 1918, just after the Great War. No-one really knows, but it’s estimated it killed between 50 to 100 million people – more than twice as many as than died in the war itself. H1N1, the strain responsible for this worst epidemic in recorded history. Almost ninety years later, H5N1 – an avian flu strain – could do exactly the same thing. The challenge now is to develop a vaccine before the pandemic arrives.
Part of a 29 x 25-minute documentary series produced for the BBC. These films can be bought individually or as a series.