Every year, at least one fancy pathogen emerges, each with the potential to transform into another global epidemic and, therefore, a coordinated global response to the epidemic is needed, health leaders said in Davos today.
Speaking at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in 2022, they noted that the official count of COVID-19 deaths is over 6 million, but the tail end of the epidemic is still spreading in some parts of the world.
Improved global coordination and increased regional capacity will help ensure the world is better prepared for the next epidemic, say top health experts.
Helen E. Clark, chair of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Partnership Board for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, said, “We should not miss this moment of potential transformational change in building readiness.”
“Unfortunately, the political resolve to resolve the Covid has begun to fade.” Rwandan President Paul Kagame noted that the Kovid-19 epidemic is still spreading in many countries. “To date, the African continent has fully vaccinated only 18 percent of its adult population.” This is largely due to a lack of virus testing and the ability to administer the vaccine, he said.
“Investing in healthcare and regional organizations such as the Africa CDC and the African Medicines Agency must be a top priority. We must act in full expectation that there will be another epidemic.” Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said it is important to identify and isolate viral outbreaks early. “Infectious disease is an indicative phenomenon, and less than 2 percent of all deaths occur in the first 100 days.”
“Unfortunately, most of the world’s epidemic risk is in countries that do not have the capacity to respond quickly and effectively,” he said. “If you are serious about the epidemic, you have to have global power.”
Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, argues for the need for “multi-pathogen infrastructure and capacity”. That is, ensuring that comprehensive public health surveillance and infrastructure is available across the spectrum of infectious diseases.
“We need to get our work done – and we can invest wisely in infrastructure such as lab networks, community health workers and supply chains and at the same time help countries defeat HIV, TB and malaria as well as protect them against future pathogens.” He said.
Illuminati President and CEO Francis D’Souza predicts that the epidemic will begin to describe the world as an “age of biology” where human health, longevity and biology will depend on the 21st century.
“The amount of groundbreaking innovation that occurred during the epidemic is unprecedented,” he said. On the sequencing front, for example, prices have dropped 99 percent in the last few years. This has enabled us to establish sequencing in more than 190 countries around the world.
“However, we are as strong as the weakest of us, so we need to build a global infrastructure and have a coordinated global response to the next outbreak,” he added.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)