bird flu, avian flu, pandemic

U.S.: Future Flu Pandemic Toll Could Be ‘Very Scary’

The number of people that could die in a flu pandemic that matches the 1918-20 outbreak will be “very scary” and far higher than the 62 million deaths forecast by a recent study, an adviser to the White House said on Monday.

“I think that number is a very optimistic number if we are talking about a 1918-wide pandemic today,” Rajeev Venkayya, Special Assistant for Biodefense to President Bush, said.

The 1918-20 “Spanish influenza” pandemic - the worst in living history - killed anywhere from 20 million to 100 million people. Half a million died in the United States alone.

Last month, a Harvard University study published in The Lancet medical journal said developing countries would bear the vast majority of the 62 million deaths in a similar pandemic.

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