Countries scramble for vaccines as ‘world not ready’ | World | News by StuffsEarth

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The world is not ready for the next pandemic, an expert has warned, as countries scramble to buy vaccines.

The European Union has purchased 665,000 vaccines, 200,000 of which going to France, as leaders fear the threat of bird flu, also known as avian influenza.

Experts have warned that this could lead to a pandemic if the disease is transmitted to humans.

Seth Berkley, a world-renowned expert on health, has criticised the US government for its “ineptitude” in responding to the bird flu threat.

Speaking in London about vaccine development, Mr Berkley said: “Are we better prepared? We could have a long discussion about this, but I would make an argument that H5N1 has suggested that we’re not.

READ MORE: First human case of bird flu in India confirmed as new warning issued

“I live in Switzerland, but in my home country of the United States, it’s been shocking to watch the ineptitude of just doing the surveillance, being able to talk about it, tracking the infections, understanding where we are.

“Do we have vaccines? Are they the right vaccines? It is really a challenge. So I’m not sure we have learned anything.”

He added: “This does make me scared. It’s one of the things that keeps me up at night.”

Dr Nirav Shah, principal deputy director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has warned this week that there is not enough testing on humans in the US to track the disease.

He said: “We would like to be doing more tests. We’d like to be testing particularly not just symptomatic workers, but anyone on a farm who is exposed…right now we want to be in a role where we’re building trust with farms and farm workers.”

Mr Berkley has echoed this sentiment, warning that The US Department of Agriculture has released limited information on samples and tests taken from cow herds across the country.

He also addressed the fact that researchers found traces of bird flu in one in five samples of milk: “This is not an isolated little problem.

“We’ve seen it get worse and worse. Why do we not have a surveillance system that can do this?

“The challenge is getting the political will and the money behind it to make this happen. But we must if we want to get ahead of these things.”

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