Jun 1, 2019

The pandemic potential

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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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,407,123— Total deaths: 81,103 — Total recoveries: 297,934Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 386,800 — Total deaths: 12,285 — Total recoveries: 20,191Map.
  3. Federal government latest: Trump removes watchdog overseeing rollout of $2 trillion coronavirus bill — Senate looks to increase coronavirus relief for small businesses this week
  4. Public health latest: Testing capacity is still lagging far behind demand.
  5. World latest: China reopens Wuhan after 10-week coronavirus lockdown.
  6. Wisconsin primary in photos: Thousands gathered to cast ballots in-person during the height of the coronavirus crisis in the U.S.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

America's food heroes

Photos: Charlie Riedel/AP (L); Brent Stirton/Getty Images

The people who grow, process and keep food stocked on shelves are doing heroic work in these conditions, often for bottom-barrel pay.

Why it matters: Millions of Americans don't have the luxury of working from home, and it's essential that food workers keep working so we can keep eating.

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Acting Navy secretary resigns over handling of virus-infected ship

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly resigned Tuesday after apologizing for comments he made about Capt. Brett Crozier, who was removed after a letter he wrote pleading with the Navy to address the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt was leaked to the press. The resignation was first reported by Politico.

Why it matters: The controversy over Crozier's removal was exacerbated after audio leaked of Modly's address to the crew, in which he said Crozier was either "too naive or too stupid to be a commanding officer of a ship like this." After initially backing Modly's decision, President Trump said at a briefing Monday that he would "get involved."