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Potential consequences

In the past, influenza pandemics have resulted in increased death and disease and great social disruption. In the 20th century, the most severe influenza pandemic occurred in 1918-1919 and caused an estimated 40 to 50 million deaths world wide. Current epidemiological models project that a pandemic could result in two to 7.4 million deaths globally.

If an influenza pandemic were to occur today, we could expect the virus to spread rapidly due to the interconnected nature of the world and the high level of global travel.

If the pandemic evolved to become severe and widespread over time, we could also expect:

  • vaccines, antiviral agents and antibiotics to treat secondary infections to be in high demand, and potentially in short supply;
  • medical facilities to be strained with demands to care for both influenza and non-influenza patients;
  • potentially significant shortages of personnel to provide essential community services.

Effective pandemic preparedness around the world is essential to mitigate the effects of a pandemic, particularly if it becomes severe.

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