Pandemic Influenza emerges as a result of a new flu virus which is markedly different from recently circulating strains. Few - if any - people will have any immunity to this new virus thus allowing it to spread easily and to cause more serious illness. The conditions that allow a new virus to develop and spread continue to exist, and some features of modern society, such as air travel, could accelerate the rate of spread. Experts therefore agree that there is a high probability of a pandemic occurring, although the timing and impact are impossible to predict.
Past pandemics have varied in scale, severity and consequence, although in general their impact has been much greater than that of even the most severe winter 'epidemic'.
It is impossible to forecast the precise characteristics, spread and impact of a new influenza virus strain, however based on historical information and scientific evidence we are able to predict the possible impacts:
More information on the likely characteristics and likelihood of a pandemic can be found at:
The World Health Organisation [External website] Experts predict another pandemic will occur but cannot say exactly when. Each pandemic is different and, until the virus starts circulating, it is impossible to predict its full effects.