The Vaccine Research Center in the US say H2N2 has the ability to cause a pandemic in the same way that of H1N1.
It has been suggested that the government should launch a vaccination program to prevent a possible H2N2 flu outbreak.
A major influenza pandemic is likely to cost far more and create a much greater health burden than a well-planned pre-emptive program, according to the center.
A ‘one-time’ campaign to immunize most of the adult population worldwide as part of the standard seasonal flu vaccination is encouraged, to include by an ongoing program to administer the vaccine to children.
In 2003 through 2007, they examined levels of immunity to H2N2 among a small group of 90 people and study suggests that people under the age of 50 have little or no immunity, and resistance dramatically increases for those older than 50.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that a pandemic outbreak costs the United States between US$ 71 billion and US$ 167 billion.
Dr. Wendy Barclay, Chair in Influenza Virology at Imperial College, says the H2 flu virus does pose a credible pandemic threat, as do other bird flu strains.
But she believes there are some big questions about whether a pre-emptive vaccination program would be welcomed by the public.
“Scientifically we are in a position to be able to offer a good solution, the issues to be decided are of cost and of public attitude.” Barclay added.