Nobel laureate plays down flu pandemic "shock-horror scenarios"
WELLINGTON (AFP) - A Nobel prize-winning scientist on Tuesday played down "shock-horror scenarios" that a new virus strain will emerge with the potential to kill millions of people.
Dr Peter Doherty, who jointly won the Nobel prize in 1996 for his work on how the immune system combats virus-infected cells, said the worst-case scenario was a new virus with a high mortality rate that was also highly infectious.
The Australian said the world experienced such a pandemic in 1918, when an influenza variant killed an estimated 50 million people, more than twice the number who died in World War I.
Dr Doherty said it was possible such an outbreak could occur again but it was unlikely to have such devastating consequences.