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Editorial, Opinion Piece Address Emergence Of H7N9 Bird Flu Strain In China

The following is a summary of an editorial and an opinion piece addressing the emergence of a new strain of bird flu — H7N9 — in China.

  • Boston Globe: “[W]ith the rise in China of a new bird flu called H7N9, which has killed 23 people and infected over 120 more, and with one case now confirmed outside the Chinese mainland, Asian countries are also bracing for the potential outbreak of a highly lethal virus,” the editorial states. “Global health depends on China being as forthcoming with information as possible, so that other nations can take appropriate precautions,” the newspaper writes, adding, “By all accounts, including that of the World Health Organization, the Chinese government and state media have been more open about the spread and genetic makeup of the disease [than the country was during the SARS epidemic a decade ago], encouraging citizens to share information.” The editorial concludes, “China owes the rest of the world a full account of its efforts to isolate patients and ensure that infected people don’t spread the virus beyond its borders” (5/1).
  • Scott Gottlieb, Forbes: “We have grappled with deadly pockets of potent flu outbreaks before. But this one has characteristics that make it different,” Gottlieb, a physician and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, writes, adding, “There’s a greater risk that this strain could acquire the ability to spread more easily from person to person.” He provides statistics about the spread of the virus so far and asks, “So are we ready to battle a pandemic strain of bird flu if this new virus picks up the capacity to more efficiently spread from person to person?” He continues, “For the most part, our strategy for preparing for pandemic flu focuses on the development of vaccines,” but “there’s good reason to believe this may not be enough. What we really need are potent antiviral medicines with broad activity against many different strains of pandemic virus” (4/30).