Dr. João Toniolo, a geriatrician at the Federal University of São Paulo, in the southeast of Brazil, says that there should be a mass vaccination against the common cold now, during what he calls the "interpandemic bird flu period."
Toniolo says the common cold vaccination will strengthen people’s resistance to the bird flu if and when it comes.
According to Toniolo, each year there are 600 million cases of the common cold around the world. It has the same symptoms as bird flu, he points out, and a mass vaccination against the common cold as a preventive measure would follow recommendations by the World Health Organization.
Toniolo, speaking at a meeting, Wednesday, January 11, of the Aerospace Medical Society (SBMA) in Rio de Janeiro, declared that there are a number of reasons that Brazil does not run the risk of having domestic bird flu.
"China, where the disease began, has a population of 1.5 billion, 14 billion birds and a low level of hygienic control. In Brazil the situation is completely different," he said.
But Toniolo went on to say that the disease is highly mutable and the dangerous strain, known as H5N1, may become transmittable from human to human.
If that happens it will be a big problem and that is why the Ministry of Health and state authorities are preparing contingency plans, which Toniolo believes should include a mass vaccination.