As the number of human cases of avian flu continues to rise, China and its surrounding regions remain on high alert, and the rest of the world watches the developing situation with great interest. There is currently no indication of human to human transmission, but the severity of illness caused in many patients, and the limited information about the source or future potential of the virus, give cause for concern. Does H7N9 have the potential to become another global pandemic, or is it nothing to worry about?
The SMC invited several leading virology and health experts for a Q&A session, to answer questions on H7N9. They discussed what we know about this virus, how it compares to previous flu viruses, how scientists monitor emerging outbreaks such as this one, and whether it is ever possible to predict or prepare for what will happen next.
Prof John McCauley, Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Influenza, MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)
Prof Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme in Vietnam & Director-elect of the Wellcome Trust
Prof Colin Butter, Research Leader of the Avian Viral Immunology Group, the Pirbright Institute
Dr Mike Skinner, Senior Lecturer in Virology, Imperial College London
Prof Peter Openshaw, Director of the Centre for Respiratory Infection, Imperial College London
Prof Wendy Barclay, Chair In Influenza Virology, Imperial College London