Bird Flu Could Be ‘10 Times Worse’ Than COVID, FDA Commissioner Warns

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by John-Michael Dumais, Childrens Health Defense:

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf on Wednesday warned that a potential bird flu pandemic could have a mortality rate of 25%. Public health experts Dr. David Bell and Brian Hooker, Ph.D., questioned the urgency and extent of the threat, calling Califf’s claims “farcical” and “overblown.”

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Robert Califf on Wednesday warned that a potential bird flu pandemic could be “10 times worse than COVID-19,” with a mortality rate of up to 25%. However, he also admitted the risk of the virus spreading to humans is still low.

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In his testimony before the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, Califf said the FDA needed to “Be ready and … do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus, which has gone around the world multiple times now in many different species.”

In preparation for the bird flu jumping to humans, Califf emphasized the need for “countermeasures” such as testing, antivirals and “a vaccine ready to go.”

The U.S. government’s Strategic National Stockpile has three FDA-approved H5N1 vaccines, manufactured by Sanofi, GSK and CSL Seqirus. All contain mercury.

However, some have raised concerns about the effectiveness of these vaccines, as they were developed based on older strains of the H5N1 virus.

Pharmaceutical companies, including Moderna, are developing new bird flu vaccines that better match the currently circulating strains.

Califf’s pronouncements were followed today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture offering farmers up to $28,000 each to enhance protective measures and testing for the bird flu virus in dairy cows, according to STAT News.

Bird flu scare ‘farcical’

Experts who spoke with The Defender questioned the urgency and extent of the bird flu threat.

Brian Hooker, Ph.D., chief scientific officer for Children’s Health Defense (CHD), said Califf’s urgency seemed “overblown” given the lengthy period between the Spanish flu pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It appears Califf is joining the choir of public officials and former public officials eagerly predicting the next pandemic a mere four years after the last one started,” Hooker told The Defender.

Dr. David Bell, a public health physician and biotech consultant, agreed with Hooker, telling The Defender the bird flu scare was “farcical.”

“We did not have a bad outbreak for over a century, and there is every likelihood that we won’t again,” Bell said. “We are using technology to pretend that new threats are occurring because we can now detect them.”

The Daily Mail noted that only two people in the U.S. have tested positive for bird flu, and both were in close contact with infected animals.

In the Texas case reported in April, the H5N1-infected worker “reported eye redness (consistent with conjunctivitis), as his only symptom, and is recovering,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Timing of bird flu claims ‘beyond suspicious’

Hooker said the timing of Califf’s pronouncements about the potential bird flu pandemic appeared suspect in light of the upcoming vote on the World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic treaty and amendments to the International Health Regulations, scheduled for the end of May.

“If passed, these amendments would grant the WHO march-in rights to any country if the secretary-general of the WHO unilaterally declares a pandemic,” Hooker said. “So much for civil liberties and free speech.”

On Monday’s episode of CHD.TV’s “Doctors & Scientists” — “Bird Flu: What You Need to Know” — Hooker and Heather Ray, a scientific analyst for CHD, remarked on the “beyond suspicious” timing of the growing rhetoric from officials like former Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) Director Rick Bright, who are also warning about the risk of a severe bird flu pandemic.

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