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04 Feb 23 122 0 0

How to eradicate the next pandemic disease

Cool Story - How to eradicate the next pandemic disease

Nick Wilson felt optimistic at the beginning of 2021. In New Zealand, there had been no or very few COVID-19 instances reported each day for several months. Wilson, a researcher and physician in public health at the University of Otago in Wellington, believed that the disease could be eradicated in New Zealand and perhaps even elsewhere in the world. According to him, "the success of public health and social measures without the vaccine gave us confidence that, when the vaccine became available, if it had sustained high efficacy and was disseminated out everywhere, and was combined with public health and social measures, we could eradicate COVID-19." He and his coworkers published a remark in July 2021 that specifically said so (N. Wilson et al. BMJ Glob. Health 6, e006810; 2021).

But at the same time, the SARS-CoV-2 Delta coronavirus was causing new havoc in the world. The New Zealand government quickly gave up the plan to do away with COVID-19, at least for the time being.

Today, New Zealand serves as a microcosm of much of the rest of the world, where the virus's fast-mutating versions are still spreading and killing people. Wilson's aspirations for a world without COVID-19 aren't entirely dashed, but they're also not as high as they were in the middle of 2021. He says, "It's disappointing. He insists that the disease can still be eradicated, but it would take practically everyone on the earth to receive a highly potent vaccination that could give them immunity for more or less their entire lives. “

There must not be a single instance of infectious disease anywhere in the globe for it to be deemed eradicated. Since 1980, smallpox has been the only contagious illness that has been wiped out in humans. Several diseases, like polio and the parasitic disease dracunculiasis, are on the verge of extinction. Of the three wild poliovirus strains, two have already been eradicated, with the third having been wiped from the majority of the world (although vaccine-derived poliovirus has, in the past year, been detected in several countries, including the United States).

It is challenging to eradicate all infectious diseases from the planet. It may become much more challenging due to societal circumstances and a certain pathogen's inherent traits.

Team effort

Without an international effort, smallpox could not have been eradicated. Future campaigns to end disease will be similar, according to Coler. Political cooperation between and within nations must remain strong for these initiatives to succeed.

During the first phase of COVID-19, numerous nations came together. "I was amazed that there was a lot of information sharing and teamwork very early in the pandemic," adds Coler. "For instance, we wouldn't have been able to obtain the virus sequences if scientists in Asia hadn't been ready to share them with us." These genetic sequences made it possible for scientists all across the world to start creating vaccinations right away.

However, several of those overseas partnerships fell apart over time, which negatively impacted the prospects. US and Soviet scientists collaborated to study smallpox. Wilson recalls, "You had that degree of cooperation. Unfortunately, I just don't think that's possible in the current environment."

The absence of proper funds for pandemic response has contributed to the disinformation campaign that has undermined efforts to eradicate COVID-19. In the United States, thousands of public-health departments continue to operate with inadequate funding and staffing, according to one report (see go.nature.com/3ddkg05). In addition to making it more challenging to implement health measures that could aid eradication, such as contact tracing, vaccination, and testing, Emily Gee, a health policy advocate at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, claims that this also puts pressure on officials' capacity to interact with the public.

Tougher tasks ahead

While COVID-19 eradication may currently be thought to be unlikely, it may serve as a spur to improved pandemic preparedness in the future. According to Gee, countries may be better able to eradicate future diseases if they pass laws like the PREVENT Pandemics Act, which is aimed at enhancing public health, medical preparedness, and pandemic-response systems in the United States.

Wilson adds that it's crucial to analyze where we went wrong during the previous two years. According to him, "we should be learning everything we can about each intervention that was tested on COVID-19 and how to maximize it for a far more severe pandemic." Coler shares his worry that the next threat might be worse than SARS-CoV-2.

The majority of human-infecting viruses are less understood and more difficult to control than coronaviruses, according to Coler. Coronaviruses were responsible for both the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) outbreak in 2012 and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002. In addition, by the time COVID-19 struck, researchers had already studied some crucial aspects of coronaviruses, even though SARS and MERS research efforts pale in comparison to those of the previous two years. For instance, understanding the spike protein helped vaccines develop quickly, and understanding important enzymes helped develop antiviral medications.

The following pandemic danger may be harder to combat than SARS-CoV-2. It might not be enough to just be ready to handle a pandemic with a threat level comparable to COVID-19. We must have an innovative mindset, Coler asserts. "While there are many things to take away from COVID-19, we must avoid falling into the trap of planning for yesterday's disaster."

The above article is selected by CoolDeeds.org. The information and the assets belong to their respective owners (original link).


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