“On average, in one corner of the world or another, a new infectious disease has emerged every year for the past 30 years: mers, Nipah, Hendra, and many more.
…Despite advances in antibiotics and vaccines, and the successful eradication of smallpox, Homo sapiens is still locked in the same epic battle with viruses and other pathogens that we’ve been fighting since the beginning of our history. When cities first arose, diseases laid them low, a process repeated over and over for millennia. When Europeans colonized the Americas, smallpox followed. When soldiers fought in the first global war, influenza hitched a ride, and found new opportunities in the unprecedented scale of the conflict. Down through the centuries, diseases have always excelled at exploiting flux…
Perhaps most important, the U.S. is prone to the same forgetfulness and shortsightedness that befall all nations, rich and poor—and the myopia has worsened considerably in recent years. Public-health programs are low on money; hospitals are stretched perilously thin; crucial funding is being slashed. And while we tend to think of science when we think of pandemic response, the worse the situation, the more the defense depends on political leadership.
When Ebola flared in 2014, the science-minded President Barack Obama calmly and quickly took the reins. The White House is now home to a president who is neither calm nor science-minded. We should not underestimate what that may mean if risk becomes reality.” (A)
“Disease tends to spread more easily and more rapidly among denser populations. And as populations grow, they can put a greater strain on already stretched resources, from sanitation to medical resources such as vaccines. Over the last few years, we have seen demand for emergency stockpiles of vaccines for diseases like cholera and yellow fever increase dramatically. While we can currently meet this demand, the growing number of mega-cities with populations of 10 million or more, and the increasing risk of urban epidemics that come with them, could deplete these stockpiles very quickly…
While stockpiles are essential, they remain only part of the solution. As cities continue to grow, our best defense will be anticipating outbreaks before they occur. For some diseases, that means making childhood immunization and pre-emptive vaccination campaigns a priority. In other cases, it may mean greater investment in sanitation infrastructure, which can help prevent not just cholera but other water-borne diseases, like the diarrhea-causing rotavirus. And many poor countries are in desperate need of basic diagnostics and surveillance capabilities, enabling them to detect an outbreak as early as possible gives them an opportunity to quickly respond.
All too often with infectious diseases, it is only when people start to die that necessary action is taken. To avoid this, the answer is simple: All countries must step up their long-term efforts to prevent and, wherever possible, eliminate infectious disease. If we keep waiting until outbreaks occur, we may soon find that our ability to respond, contain, and end them is gravely inadequate.” (B)
“Even for outbreaks with excellent vaccines, supplies cannot always be ready fast enough. Once supplies are ready to bring to market, they still need to be fitted into the supply chain, stored properly, and transported to the appropriate individuals — wherever they are.
The logistical issues can be enormous. We are seeing those issues with the experimental Ebola vaccines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo now as aid workers use small boats or motorbikes carrying portable freezers of vaccine to reach remote villages. Vaccines must be administered properly. That means recruiting and training medical professionals and educating the public so that people seek out and receive a vaccine. It also means tracking doses and side effects.
This is why preparedness is vital. Vaccines have a very specific function for containing disease. But even if we develop a vaccine for every possibility, they still have limitations. Local communities must therefore be prepared to prevent and contain outbreaks and limit the impact of those outbreaks on health care and public services.
Preparation means having comprehensive, resilient primary health care services and systems in place with working components: strong leadership, engaged communities, laboratories and hospitals, pharmaceutical systems, supply chains, and disease surveillance systems.”
“Disease outbreaks start and end at the community level, so focusing efforts there is critical. At the global health nonprofit where I work, Management Sciences for Health, we help local authorities develop preparedness plans so that leaders know how to react, communicate risks and lead residents in adopting preventive behaviors.” (C)
“In early May, a strange disease began to affect people in the southern Indian state of Kerala, killing 17 people. The cause was an almost unknown virus called Nipah virus. Even though the virus has been contained, for the moment, WHO is concerned about the Nipah virus which might indeed become the Disease X.
Many of the disease experts consider Nipah to be the most frightening and worrying ’emerging’ virus of the last decades, at least. It is no coincidence that WHO has it as one of the eight priority viruses for which a vaccine should be developed.
According to The New York Times, Nipah infection causes flu symptoms, such as fever, body aches, and vomiting, which often progress to acute respiratory syndrome and encephalitis, or brain inflammation.
Some survivors show persistent neurological effects, including personality changes.
WHO is concerned that Nipah virus might become the Disease X. (D)
“American researchers have developed a platform capable of delivering single-dose vaccines that fully protect against infectious diseases such as Zika, Ebola and Lassa fever…
The vaccines are suitable for repeated use, stable at refrigerator temperatures or lyophilized for non-cold chain needle-free application, and amenable to rapid and affordable scale-up for use in both epidemic response and routine vaccination, according to Basu.
In proof-of-concept studies, the researchers tested three independent vaccines against three different families of viruses. Each vaccine demonstrated full protection after a single dose, using various lethal challenge models. (E)
“The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday cautioned against declaring victory too early in Congo’s Ebola epidemic, despite encouraging signs that it may be brought under control.
“The outbreak is stabilizing, but still the outbreak is not over,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told journalists on a visit to Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa. “We are still at war, and we need to continue to strengthen our surveillance and … be very vigilant.” (F)
(A) The Next Plague Is Coming. Is America Ready?, by ED YONG , https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/07/when-the-next-plague-hits/561734/
(B) Do we keep waiting for the next pandemic or try to prevent it?, by Seth Berkley https://www.statnews.com/2018/06/14/pandemic-prevention-ebola-drc-vaccines/?utm_source=STAT+Newsletters&utm_campaign=e1055e5b9f-MR_COPY_07&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8cab1d7961-e1055e5b9f-149527969
(C) Let’s not rely on vaccines, here’s how we can prepare for epidemics now, by MARIAN WENTWORTH, http://thehill.com/opinion/healthcare/391889-Lets-not-rely-on-vaccines-heres-how-we-can-prepare-for-epidemics-now
(D) WHO Is Concerned About Nipah Virus, As It Might Become The “Disease X”, by Joe Blair, https://www.healththoroughfare.com/disease/who-is-concerned-about-nipah-virus-as-it-might-become-the-disease-x/9110
(E) Platform developed for single-dose vaccines to treat viruses like Zika, Ebola, https://news.cgtn.com/news/3d3d674e3151444d78457a6333566d54/share.html
(F) ‘We are still at war’ with Ebola: WHO chief, https://www.srnnews.com/we-are-still-at-war-with-ebola-who-chief/