The global outbreak of swine flu hovering just below the pandemic threshold could provide immunity for those already infected if the virus mutates into a more deadly form, scientists have told AFP. That is what happened in 1918, when most people who fell ill with a mild Spring flu were effectively inoculated from the far more lethal strains that roared back a few months later and killed at least 40 million worldwide, according to recent and upcoming studies. The death rate among those infected during the first wave was 70 percent lower, according to groundbreaking research published in November in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. The findings suggest that going all-out to prevent exposure to the kind of non-seasonal flu sweeping across the world today may turn out to be counter-productive in the fight to reduce mortality. Health officials around the world have taken decisive measures to halt the flu’s spread, including closing schools and quarantining travellers. Mexico City, the epidemic’s epicentre, was essentially shuttered for five days until Wednesday. “In 1918, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, it would have been better to allow a first wave of infection in order to build immunity to the merging virus while…
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