The world stands on the edge of a flu pandemic, according to the world’s leading experts. The results, they predict, will be catastrophic. Millions of deaths, economies and civil society in chaos, political life undermined or destroyed. A doomsday scenario! Such outbreaks happen two or three times every hundred years. We are due one now—and the avian flu strain H5N1 is the most likely candidate for a future pandemic. The last catastrophic flu pandemic was in 1918, just after World War I. No one really knows, but it’s estimated it killed between 50 and 100 million people—more than twice as many as had died in the war itself. H1N1 is the strain responsible for this worst epidemic in recorded history. Almost a century later, H5N1—an avian flu strain—could do exactly the same thing. The challenge now is to develop a vaccine before the pandemic arrives.