How The World Can Prepare For Future Pandemics

By Ellen Kershner on May 27 2020 in Society

It is only a matter of time until another pandemic hits. Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
It is only a matter of time until another pandemic hits. Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
  • As the coronavirus slowly eases its grip on the societies, experts are urging the world to prepare for the next pandemic now.
  • From 1980 to 2013, the number of yearly epidemics increased from less than 1,000 to more than 3,000.
  • public attention and proactive health measures decrease once the immediate threat has passed.
  • the European Commission led a pledging conference on May 4

As the coronavirus slowly eases its grip on the societies, experts are urging the world to prepare for the next pandemic now. In fact, Fortune.com predicts that it is only a matter of time until another pandemic hits since infectious diseases are more prevalent now than ever before.

  • Diseases like SARS, influenza, MERS-CoV, and Ebola kill millions of people each year
  • From 1980 to 2013, the number of yearly epidemics increased from less than 1,000 to more than 3,000.

Not being prepared for these kinds of crises leads to disaster, as shown in the high infection numbers and impact on the global economy.

Changing Priorities

Now is the time to develop strategies to fight future pandemics. Photo by cheng feng on Unsplash

After past outbreaks, it seems as though public attention and proactive health measures decrease once the immediate threat has passed. Instead of moving on to other priorities, now may be the time to work on strategies to better prepare the world for future pandemics. Here are some recommendations from The National Academies Press. These four areas were determined to be focus areas:

  • Develop models that can determine the best ways to deliver therapies during outbreaks
  • Stockpile broad-spectrum antiviral drugs
  • Work on advanced development for pandemic vaccine strains
  • Establish surge capacities for fast vaccine production.

The Pledging Conference

Countries are joining together for a pledging conference to determine how to fight a future pandemic. Photo by Alec Favale on Unsplash

In a display of global solidarity, the European Commission led a pledging conference on May 4. It was attended by representatives from Japan, Italy, Britain, France, and other countries, and raised pledges of $8.07 billion. China attended online, but the United States did not. Monies raised will go towards research and development into vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to halt the virus’ spread. It will also focus on ensuring equitable, universal access whatever is gained, including for those in poor countries.

The conference established the ACT (Access to COVID Tools Accelerator), to include governance structure, health care workers, patients, civil society, the business community, and supply chain experts. Resources will be allocated using a clear, strategic plan to help prevent future pandemics.

Another important goal was to achieve international agreement on a successful plan to end the coronavirus pandemic and prevent the next one from starting. They also discussed ways to develop budgets to fully cover the costs of combatting future pandemics and setting up timelines and delivery means to carry the plans through.

Vulnerability

COVID-19 became a global crisis that put vulnerable populations at risk. Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

In the United States and much of the world, many weaknesses have come out that show how unprepared countries were for the pandemic. Critics point out that strong public health systems are essential. One way to do this is by developing central data surveillance systems that can link population and laboratory data to clinical measures. This way, health systems would be better able to track and predict future outbreaks. 

Another reason why COVID-19 became a global crisis is the inherent inequality that compounded things for vulnerable populations. Economic stimulus packages could be more targeted towards those who need it most, like the hardest-hit workers and small businesses. Expanding unemployment benefits, health care accesses, food, housing security, and helping small businesses would all strengthen the social safety net.

More Recommendations

GlobalCitizen explained that improved health surveillance systems are needed to forecast future epidemics. One way to do this is through better data collection and sharing. “We need to invest in surveillance programs to learn more about viruses that develop in animals and transmit to humans,” said infectious disease specialist Dr. Barbara Rath. The Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations is working on a COVID-19 vaccine, and has signed on with other research organizations and businesses globally to develop a vaccine. This kind of collaboration can lead to faster development of future vaccines as well.

More in Society

worldatlas.com

WorldAtlas