The big development this week is a sudden rise in concern over bird flu, or H5N1. I say rise in concern rather than rise in risk. Risk from H5N1 has been around for a long time. We have known for a while that human-to-human transmission, while it is not happening right now, could evolve at any time from not that many mutations.
Following up on the actionable advice (report dead birds): in New York City, it seems like the appropriate point of contact is the DEC Regional Wildlife Office, (718) 482-4922; if they don't pick up, the central Wildlife Health Unit for New York State, at (518) 478-2203. Presumably you can also call 311, but I'd expect the wildlife health people to treat it more like a potential public health issue rather than like a sanitation complaint.
I got offered a spot in a bird flu vaccine (don't remember manufacturer) trial in March 2021, but passed due to the distance I'd have to drive to the site for the checkups/etc... oh well. I live in close proximity to lots of wild birds, as well as minks/foxes. I have had heard the "don't touch dead birds" warning for >10 years, but that translates to "I wear gloves when I find a poor window strike victim."
According to wikipedia, there are already several approved H5N1 vaccines, and the challenge would be scaling production -- wouldn't it make more sense to, like, work on scaling production than try to get mRNA versions approved (for a virus that doesn't really exist in the human population at the moment, making efficacy trials difficult)?
This would have the added benefit of producing a vaccine that has not had its mechanism politicized resulting in broad swathes of the population probably being reluctant to take it -- not sure why you are jumping to mRNA as the solution?
If it's the egg thing, while your point is ironic I'm pretty sure the supply chain for eggs for vaccine production is quite separate from the one for edible ones; indeed CNN claims that the US government maintains their own secret chicken farms just for this! (https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/27/health/chicken-egg-flu-vaccine-intl-hnk-scli/index.html)
It doesn't seem *impossible* to keep these farms isolated from infection vectors; I'd expect the bio-security around these is pretty stringent already?
Just a small note re lethality of the 1918 flu: I believe that most of the deaths were from secondary infections causing bacterial pneumonia, not from the flu itself. Would have been much different with antibiotics. (Not sure if that has any relevance to avian flus though.)
I had a thought. Is it stupid?
If a new, more lethal, pandemic sees a substantial mortality rate among recently committed vaccine sceptics, will removing those people from the gene pool make a difference to overall trust in institutions? Thus opening up opportunities for institutions to be even more useless?
Yes, it's flippant, but still...