Media release published at May 11, 2020

New Report: Mutant Bird Flu 90 Times More Deadly Than Covid-19 Could Emerge

Zoonoses Report

New report: mutant bird flu 90 times more deadly than Covid-19 could emerge

Experts: new bird flu strain could kill 60 per cent of those infected

Factory farming and wildlife markets blamed for virus risk

Campaigners call on public to go vegan


A NEW report will today warn that a mutated bird flu virus capable of killing six-in-ten of those infected is ‘poised to emerge in humans.’

The new mutant strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus could prove 90 times more deadly than Covid-19, scientists believe.[i]

The report was published today by vegan charity Viva! led by senior health researcher Dr Justine Butler.

Estimates published in The Lancet indicate that Covid-19 may kill some 0.66 per cent of those infected,[ii] while a new mutant strain of H5N1 could kill 60 per cent of those that contract the disease.[iii]

Across the world viruses carried by wild water birds are causing increasing levels of illness and death in large numbers of land-birds, especially poultry.

The viruses have begun jumping species, infecting different animals, including pigs, whales, horses, seals, dogs and humans.

Scientists are concerned that the global explosion in factory farming and wildlife markets could make the transmission of mutated strains of the H5N1 bird flu virus to humans much easier.

Both Covid-19 and bird flu are zoonotic diseases – infectious diseases that spread from animals to humans.

They include familiar illnesses and diseases such as the common cold, influenza (flu), polio, AIDS and measles alongside other lesser known ones such as SARS, MERS, Nipah virus and Ebola.

Most recently, Covid-19 has joined this growing list, having jumped from bats or other wild animals, to humans, leading to the current pandemic.

There are over 200 zoonotic diseases and 56 of them affect some two-and-a-half billion people and cause nearly three million deaths every year.

Zoonotic diseases are developing with increasing frequency. Three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases in people come from animals.

The report calls on Britons to go vegan in a bid to reduce demand for factory farming and wildlife markets.

In the Zoonoses a ticking time bomb report Dr Butler writes: “The majority of both zoonoses and antibiotic-resistant diseases are the result of human activity, with factory farming and wild animal markets lying at the heart of the problem.

“The solution could not be easier – go vegan now!”

Zoologist and Viva! director Juliet Gellatley said: “The writing is on the wall. The global explosion in factory farming and wildlife markets has left humankind exposed to catastrophic pandemics that could kill millions of people.

“For the sake of generations to come we must heed the science and end our collective dependency on the horrific abuse of animals.”

For more information on zoonotic diseases visit Read the report here. 

[i] The death rate of those infected by coronavirus is thought to be 0.66 percent. The death rate for those infected by a mutant H5N1 strain could be 60 percent. This equates to a H5N1 infection death rate 90.9 times higher.

[ii][ii] The Lancet – reported by the British Medical Journal

[iii] Zoonoses a ticking time bomb – Emerging diseases originating in animals and their impact on humanity by Dr Justine Butler © Viva!

ENDS information:

  • Zoonoses a ticking time bomb Emerging diseases originating in animals and their impact on humanity was published today by Viva!
  • Founded in 1994 and based in Bristol, Viva! campaigns for a vegan world because taking life unnecessarily is obscene, damaging and plain wrong.
Scroll up