Russia Today
April 28, 2009

In 2004, Professor Dmitry Lvov, head of D.I. Ivanovsky Institute of Virology and an academic of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, made an important prognosis at a press conference in Moscow. At the time he spoke of not only how a deadly virus would infect the planet, but he also gave a precise description for the mechanism of how it would possibly generate.

Five years ago Professor Dmitry Lvov gave a detailed description of how a deadly pandemic flu virus was on the horizon. On Tuesday April 28, 2009, he spoke to RT about the outlook of a swine flu pandemic.

This time, Professor Lvov has provided RT with further explanations and a possible prediction for the current situation.

According to the scientist, who has been studying new and returning viral infections for more than 40 years, influenza viruses are primarily associated with birds. Normally, these viruses circulate in various ecosystems and do not interfere with humans. However, occasional shifts cause these viruses to infect different groups of animals, and even human beings.

“When this happens, different types of viruses may interfere within the same host organism and exchange with their genetic material. Such events create new types of viruses with new characteristics. This is exactly what happened to the swine flu virus in the Western Hemisphere,” said the specialist.

A significant difference between the deadly viruses that caused Spanish flu – which claimed 20-50 million lives at the beginning of the XX century – bird influenza and swine flu, according to Professor Lvov, pertains to their virulence. It is much higher in bird flu, which, fortunately, cannot be transmitted from one human to another. Yet both Spanish and swine influenza viruses are capable of this.

In his opinion, the high numbers of fatalities in Mexico and their absence in the United States could be explained with earlier diagnostics existing in the US, and proper, more intensive treatment of patients.

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In addition, the number of cases revealed in the US is not to be compared with some 1500 diagnosed in Mexico.

“Fifteen hundred cases announced for Mexico are more likely to be 150,000 of those infected in total, and such numbers of patients would be virtually impossible to properly take care of,” Professor Lvov explained.

According to the professor, should we face the beginning of a pandemic, the process is going to develop instantly, taking the mobility of people in the modern world into account. However, he has pointed out that, at the moment, it is not completely clear whether this virus possesses a pandemic potential.

The scientist particularly stressed that, “The sooner we understand that the present cataclysm is as serious an earthquake or tsunami, and that there is nothing people can do to prevent it, the better. Still, we should do our best to minimize the possible consequences of this situation and try to make better prognoses for such events in future.”

Speaking of the potential vaccine, Professor Lvov noted that he did not doubt it would be created, but not sooner than in six months. Also, in his opinion, the existing vaccines with an H1N1 component might be useful in the case of swine flu, too.

“These antigens are not identical, but such vaccines may prove to be useful in this case. It is also possible that the reason why the current situation in the United States can better be explained by the high number of those vaccinated against common flu,” said the scientist.

Professor Lvov is sure that no quarantine measures are able to stop a pandemic, only to slow it down at best.

“Further scenario depends on how actively viruses will be transmitted from one human to another and, in this way, spread over the world,” Professor Lvov added.

Read full interview


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