Relief organizations have been working hard to address the medical, social and economic impacts of the covid-19 pandemic. This work is necessary and admirable, but it does not help us to prepare for the next pandemic. We have a responsibility to take what we have learned from this pandemic and invest in technologies that will help us to predict, mitigate and foster social resilience in the pandemics to come.
In a June 2020 Senate hearing, chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander, he said “the one thing this sneaky, dangerous virus has reminded us is that there will be another sneaky, dangerous virus one day and we know from experience that it may be easier to take the (necessary) steps, while our eye is on the ball, rather than between pandemics because we get interested in other issues.”
It is, in fact, necessary to make preventative investments now, and ALSO during the time between pandemics, because the time between pandemics is becoming shorter and shorter. Two days ago, right in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, a new potential pandemic virus was found in pigs in China. BBC reports that “the virus, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.” Researchers reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that measures to control the spread of the virus and monitoring of workers should be monitored.
If G4 EA H1N1 spreads and becomes a pandemic, we are not prepared.
Pandemics are coming much closer together thanks to globalization.
We will not likely be waiting one hundred years for the next pandemic, it is predicted to come in less than five years. Data from the CDC tracking human cases of novel influenza since 1959 shows a dramatic increase in novel influenza over the past two decades.
Preparation for pandemics is not something that government or NGOs can do by themselves.
We have seen that the global response to this pandemic was underwhelming, regardless of which country’s response you consider. Globally, we’re at least a decade behind where we need to be, and maybe even more.
What is needed is greater investment in private enterprise that has shown an ability to innovate in ways that governments won’t or can’t do. We have already seen great strides by startup innovators that are coming up with solutions to the pandemic. Support is needed for these startups in order to accelerate the growth of new solutions that go beyond just developing a new vaccine (though that is very important), but which also address the broader impacts of pandemics that include looking at new ways of making work work, and improving access to education from a distance, expanding telemedicine, contact tracing, food services, transportation, and shoring up our supply chains.
These are all things we were likely to do anyway over the next decade or two, but now we need to invest in speeding these things up so that we can truly be prepared for the next pandemic – it’s coming sooner than we think.
Join us at www.pandemicimpactfund.com to help get the world back on track and prepare for this and future pandemics.