The H1N1 virus, responsible for the deadly Spanish Flu outbreak in 1918. Photo: BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images

Another global threat — one that is a repeated refrain amongst the White House, Centers for Disease Control, former national security advisers and even Bill Gates — is a pandemic.

Between the lines: Influenza is of particular concern for health officials, even though there are more contagious viruses — for example, measles — and more deadly ones, like Ebola.

  • But the flu virus can mutate quickly, sometimes acquiring a new ability to infect humans easily, causing concern about its potential to spark a pandemic, which happens when a new strain appears that most have no immunity against.
"The combination of a new deadly strain of flu plus air travel plus the ease with which it can be transmitted to other people. That really is the worst case scenario."
— Lisa Monaco, former White House homeland security adviser, on "Axios on HBO"

One challenge with the flu virus is a virulent strain can emerge quickly and seemingly disappear rapidly, making it difficult to anticipate the virus' course and to develop a vaccine against its possible strains.

  • Funding is being directed into the development of a universal flu vaccine that aims to offer broader immunity against different strains of the virus, but researchers face many obstacles. The National Institutes of Health is testing a vaccine and expects early results next year.
  • Gates and others argue the world needs a multilateral pandemic response program — including a universal vaccine — to mitigate the threat of pandemic flu (and other pathogens).
"We are fooling ourselves if we think that we can do this alone, that it's only about what happens within the borders of our country. It has to be a global health security effort."
— Lisa Monaco

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Eileen Drage O'Reilly: Emerging virulent pathogens are a threat each nation needs to report on a transparent basis to promote possible global coordination to halt their spread.

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The heads of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Business Roundtable, National Retail Federation and other top business organizations wrote an open letter on Thursday urging the White House coronavirus task force to work with governors to make face coverings mandatory in all public spaces.

Driving the news: An analysis led by Goldman Sachs' chief economist found that a national mandate requiring face coverings would "could potentially substitute for lockdowns that would otherwise subtract nearly 5% from GDP," the Washington Post reports.

Updated 38 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 10,763,604 — Total deaths: 517,667 — Total recoveries — 5,522,094Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:30 p.m. ET: 2,715,124 — Total deaths: 128,439 — Total recoveries: 729,994 — Total tested: 32,827,359Map.
  3. Public health: What we know about the immune response to coronavirus and what it means for a vaccine.
  4. Politics: Herman Cain hospitalized for COVID-19 after attending Trump Tulsa rally — Biden downplays jobs number, rebukes Trump for ignoring health crisis.
  5. States: Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases — 5 states saw 27% spike in heart-related deaths in first 3 months of coronavirus pandemic.

The other immune responders to COVID-19

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Scientists are inching closer to understanding how antibodies and immune cells are unleashed by the body in response to the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Natural immunity differs from that afforded by vaccination but it offers clues for the design of effective vaccines and therapies.