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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.

Go deeper:

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Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Officer Kim Potter arrested, charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Photo: Bruce Bisping/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Kim Potter, the former police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, was released on a $100,000 bond on Wednesday, Hennepin County jail records show.

Why it matters: Sunday's shooting of the 20-year-old Black man in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year, has reinvigorated Black Lives Matter protests and led to three consecutive nights of unrest.

Updated 52 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden names Erika Moritsugu as senior AAPI liaison

Erika Moritsugu. Photo courtesy: National Partnership for Women & Families

President Biden has named Erika Moritsugu as deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, the White House announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: The decision follows weeks of pressure from AAPI leaders to include more Asian American representation at the Cabinet level and in senior administration roles.

Matt Gaetz targets CNN in new ad amid sexual misconduct claims

Rep. Matt Gaetz in Doral, Florida, last week. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) announced Wednesday a six-figure ad buy for a spot that takes aim at CNN as part of an offensive to hit back at mounting sexual misconduct allegations, Politico first reported.

Driving the news: Gaetz is under federal investigation following sex trafficking allegations, and the House Ethics Committee has also opened an inquiry. Announcing the 30-second ad, to run in his Florida Panhandle district, Gaetz called on his Twitter followers to "help us fight back!"