Avian influenza: Ethical preparedness

Concerns about an H5N1 avian influenza pandemic have been renewed following some of the largest ever outbreaks of H5N1 in wild and farmed animals around the world. During 2021-22, outbreaks of a novel strain of H5N1 led to the deaths of over 100 million infected and potentially infected birds. Documented infections in dozens of mammalian species provide evidence both that the strain can jump from birds to mammals, and be transmitted between mammals, raising concerns about impacts on human health. This seminar will explore the distinctive ethical questions and considerations raised by an avian influenza pandemic and discuss priorities for ethical preparedness,

1. What lessons can be learned from prior experiences with avian influenza and pandemic influenza preparedness more generally?
2. To what extent should our experience with COVID-19 inform our preparedness for a possible avian influenza pandemic?
3. What should societies prioritize to ensure our responses to a possible avian influenza pandemic are ethically appropriate and fully justified?

Prof. Ross Upshur, Head, Division of Clinical Public Health, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Canada

Helen Branswell, Senior Writer, Infectious Diseases and Global Health, STAT

Lyle Fearnley, Assistant Professor, Associate Head of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore