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Expert opinion

Even before the war broke out in Ukraine, global food prices had reached a record high. Supply chains that had already been severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic were almost pushed to breaking point by the climate-related extreme weather events of 2021. Then, when the conflict began, the price of key commodity crops, fuel, and fertiliser skyrocketed overnight.
Where did the idea of inoculation against disease come from? Before vaccination, there was the technique of inoculation by variolation, in which scabs and pus were taken from someone suffering from smallpox would be inserted into cuts in the skin of a healthy person. This could induce a mild infection that offered protection against the more virulent form of the disease.
Concerns about the prices of medicines have grown over recent years. British legislators will this year renegotiate the terms of the pricing and access scheme for branded medicines between the Government and the pharmaceutical industry, seeking to control growth in prices.
Now bird flu (H5N1) has been detected in mammals are we at greater risk of a human pandemic? No one can predict whether we’re at low risk or high risk of an H5N1 human pandemic at the moment. While H5N1 can infect humans who come into close contact with birds with the disease – for example poultry workers – so far no strain has emerged that sustains transmission between humans in the way that would be needed to create a pandemic.