Juan José Badiola: “It is surprising that Spain does not join the purchase of vaccines against bird flu”

The advance of avian flu is beginning to worry scientists around the planet. The jump to humans of the virus that causes it is a greater possibility than ever and the shadow of a pandemic looms again. For now, Spain has ruled out joining the purchase of preventive vaccines that Europe has started.

How do you assess the current situation of avian flu worldwide?

As is well known, from 2022 to the present, numerous outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza type A H5N1 have been described in both wild and domestic birds and also in species of wild and domestic mammals such as foxes, minks, dogs. , raccoon dogs, cats and marine mammals, and lately in cows. Although there have been cases of transmission to the human species, they have still been carried out in a limited way, particularly in Europe.

Do you think there is a risk of it becoming a pandemic?

Although at this time it is premature to make this prediction, because there is no proven evidence that this avian virus has undergone a mutation and/or recombination that facilitates its transmission to the human species and its subsequent spread, it cannot be ruled out that this possibility will not be to occur in the future, in which case that risk should be considered.

The Ministry of Health has decided not to participate in the joint purchase of vaccines by the EU, in which 15 countries participate. What do you think about it?

I was surprised by this position of the Spanish Ministry of Health because I understand that the decision adopted by the European Union is a correct preventive measure.

Are possible outbreaks well monitored in Spain?

I believe so, since in Spain the outbreaks of avian flu caused by this virus have been strictly monitored and, in fact, since the beginning of the epidemic, outbreaks have been promptly detected in both wild and domestic birds and the measures have been adopted. appropriate measures for its control and eradication.

Do you think our country's veterinary professionals and farm workers are sufficiently protected?

I believe that both have adequate knowledge about biosafety that they apply in the practice of their professional activity and, therefore, of the risks that may affect them personally in the case of a disease communicable to the human species. In this regard, I consider that the measure adopted by the EU to apply a preventive vaccine against the virus to professionals related to the animal sector involved would be a very positive complementary measure that would significantly increase the personal protection of these professionals to be more prepared in the case. that they would have to face contact with animals infected by the virus and particularly if it had undergone adaptation to the human species.

Do you consider it necessary to implement any more prevention measures in our country at this time? If so, what would they be?

I think the most important thing is to continue with the surveillance program of the evolution of the virus in both animals and humans, with close monitoring of the outbreaks detected.