Scientists have raised new alarms over what they consider an increasing chance that a potential outbreak of avian flu could affect 20 percent of the world's population, kill millions of people and spark an economic crisis. In a collection of articles in Nature, the experts say that most countries are completely unprepared for a pandemic, have not stockpiled sufficient quantities of antivirals and that no vaccines have been developed to stop the H5N1 virus.
By one estimate, an outbreak of bird flu could cause 30 million hospitalizations and kill 7.5 million people within months. Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy says such an outbreak would cause countries to close borders and halt trade, causing a global economic meltdown.
- read this story from USA Today for more on the warning