Pandemics

After all it really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic - Margaret Chan

Pandemics

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In a recent survey of epidemiologists, 90 per cent of them said a pandemic would leave one billion people sick; kill 165 million; and cost the world economy $3-trillion (U.S.) over the next two generations. Which pathogen will do this?

That’s the million-dollar question and we don’t know the answer. Most virologists expect it will be a new kind of avian influenza. If a new kind of avian influenza were to emerge and spread as effectively as existing influenza viruses do already, we will see a huge increase in sickness, hospitalizations and death. More novel forms of influenzas are emerging. And the frequency with which they’re emerging is due to the changed economy and ecology of South China and large parts of Asia – areas where most of our wild waterfowl live. With the intense invasion of agriculture going on there, combined with the destruction of wildlife habitats – these have become the ultimate reservoirs for these viruses to mutate and change in new ways. Another candidate for the next pandemic is highly drug-resistant bacterial pathogens, which resist all antibiotics. In this scenario, where there is nothing medicine can do, global health – and the traditional practice of medicine – would be altered in a huge way...

Source: Gayle Macdonald, Excerpt from Ebola, avian flu and Zika: How to protect future generations from the next epidemic, The Globe and Mail, March 1, 2016.

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Last Updated : Sunday, May 10, 2020