Cavian influenza expert and bio-medical scientist, Malik Peiris, on CNN’s 'Talk Asia'

Human virologist Professor Malik Peiris speaks with CNN’s Anjali Rao in this weekend’s TALK ASIA on identifying the SARS virus, the latest global avian influenza concerns and what it’s like to join other eminent scientists, including Stephen Hawking and Sir Isaac Newton, in Britain's prestigious Royal Society.

Peiris came to prominence three years ago when SARS swept through parts of Asia but is also a leading expert on avian influenza. As an authority on the mutating virus, he explains that intensive raising of backyard poultry, live animal markets and the ease with which geographic boundaries can be crossed have all contributed to the emergence of prominent viruses in Asia: “The fact of the matter is no one, no country still is fully prepared to confront an influenza pandemic and certainly not a pandemic arising from a virus like H5N1.”

According to Peiris, the SARS virus has not been contained completely: ”The parent virus from which the SARS virus emerged is still out there. It’s out there in the animal reservoir … and conceivable that this virus might readapt to human transmission.”

Looking back at historical cycles of global pandemics, Professor Peiris suggests that another one is due to erupt in the near future. “Within the next 10 year time frame, it is extremely likely that the world will have to confront a pandemic. At this point in time, H5N1 seems to be the most concerning of the potential candidates for such a pandemic,” he says.

To inspire a future generation of scientific researchers, he explains “This century is really going to be the century of bio-medical research and discovery. Biological revolution is just beginning to gather steam and I think for young people, this is a great opportunity.”

AIRTIMES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

For more program information and details on upcoming guests on TALK ASIA visit http://edition.cnn.com/ASIA/talkasia/

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