Monday, October 05, 2009 at MIT
Reflections on the Current H1N1 Flu
Speaker: John Barry, influenza historian, author of "The Great Influenza," and board member of the Center for Engineering Systems Fundamentals
Enough data on H1N1 has accumulated that we can reach some tentative conclusions. It seems clearly to target people born after 1957, and generate high morbidity in schools, while those >65 have largely escaped. It also seems generally mild, although that depends how one defines "mild." One study, using one measure, concluded it's 100 times as virulent as seasonal flu. Nonetheless, numerous questions remain. For one thing, it lacks molecular markers to do some of the things it is doing, including for human transmissibility as well as for binding directly to cells in the lung. And the most important question that remains open is a general one: whether any influenza virus can change virulence. Although some virologists speculate that changes in virulence have not been observed, historical evidence not only from past pandemics but from seasonal influenza suggests otherwise.
Open to: the general public
Sponsor(s): Engineering Systems DivisionFor more information, contact: