Sept. 30, 2010 – Some two-thirds of Americans may already be immune to H1N1 swine flu, making an explosive new wave unlikely.
High vaccination rates this flu season, especially among children and young adults, might even drive the pandemic bug to extinction, speculate top researchers at the National Institutes of Health.
"Clearly, a large percentage of the U.S. population must already be immune to pandemic H1N1, reducing opportunities for explosive pandemic spread in the future," write David M. Morens, MD; Jeffery K. Taubenberger, MD, PhD; and Anthony S. Fauci, MD.
"History suggests that pandemic H1N1 likely faces extinction unless it mutates," they add.
Fauci is director of the National Institutes of Health. Morens is his senior advisor, and Taubenberger is a flu expert and senior investigator at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
However, the H1N1 swine flu bug isn't yet gone, and the most likely scenario is that it will continue to haunt us for a few years, even if it can't reignite the pandemic.
"It is noteworthy that other post-pandemic [flu] viruses have continued to cause various rates of excess mortality among younger persons for years after pandemic appearance," Morens, Taubenberger, and Fauci warn.