The COVID-19 pandemic may just be a 'dress rehearsal for the coming plague', according to acclaimed plant-based doctor Dr. Michael Greger.
Dr. Michael Greger, who has a background in infectious disease, is an internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues. He is the author of Bird Flu: A Virus Of Our Own Hatching, which looks at infectious diseases and human's role in them - as well as how we can protect ourselves.
Now his new book How To Survive A Pandemic* looks at the pathogens that cause pandemics and how to face them - and the role chicken farming is playing in the risk of future pandemics.
'Just a dress rehearsal'
In a promotional video for the book, Dr. Greger says: "The current COVID-19 pandemic, as deadly as it may be, may just be a dress rehearsal for the coming plague.
"Decades ago, a flu virus was discovered in chickens that would forever change our understanding on how bad pandemics could potentially get. It was named H5N1 and appeared capable of killing more than half the people it infected. Half. Imagine if a virus like that started spreading explosively human to human. Consider a pandemic 100-times worse than COVID-19, not the fatality rate of two in 100, but more like one in two. A coin toss.
"Thankfully, H5N1 has so far remained more poultry than people, but it - and other new deadly animal viruses like H7N9 are still out there, still mutating, with an eye on that eight billion-strong buffet of human hosts. With pandemics, it's always a matter of when not if. A universal outbreak with more than just a few percent mortality wouldn't just threaten financial markets, but civilization itself as we know it."
How To Survive A Pandemic
Dr. Greger goes on to discuss how the new book contains 'everything you need to help protect yourself and your family from the current threat' as well as tackling the question of what can we do to stop the emergence of pandemic viruses in the first place.
According to Dr. Greger, many infectious diseases including tuberculosis, measles, AIDS, and COVID-19 'share a common origin story: human interaction with animals'. So when it comes to limiting the risk of H5N1, Dr. Greger's proposals including changing the farm system.
He says first we should move away from factory farms, where stressed chickens are kept in cramped, dirty conditions, and fed antibiotics to smaller free-range operations, and then stop eating birds completely.
He said: "The pandemic cycle could theoretically be broken for good. Bird flu could be grounded...[but] as long as there is poultry, there will be pandemics. In the end, it may be us or them."
*How To Survive A Pandemic is available on Kindle and in audiobook format, and in paperback from August 20.