LivingThe pandemic could have been prevented, according to the...

The pandemic could have been prevented, according to the WHO

A report commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) to a panel of independent experts is blunt in its conclusions: the COVID-19 pandemic could have been prevented. Furthermore, the authors of the report believe that we have not learned our lesson, and that the world remains unprepared to combat future threats to public health. “The current system is clearly inadequate to prevent another new and highly infectious pathogen, which could emerge at any time, causing a pandemic,” explains the report of the group, chaired by Helen Clark, former Prime Minister of New, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia.

For experts, the time elapsed between the detection of the first cases of pneumonia of unknown origin in mid-December 2019 and the declaration by the WHO of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern on January 30, 2020 was too long. long. In addition, they consider that February was a month lost by the countries of the world in order to tackle the looming pandemic, since many more measures could have been taken to contain the spread of the virus and prevent the health catastrophe that still hits us.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a sign of how vulnerable and fragile our world is,” the report reads. The virus has disrupted societies, placed the world’s population in grave danger, and exposed profound inequalities. The division and inequality between and within countries have been exacerbated, and the impact has been severe for people who are already marginalized and disadvantaged, ”the report states.

 

Will we be able to stop future pandemics?

“The new millennium has seen the havoc that global health threats such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola and Zika can wreak. Experts had warned of the threat of new pandemic diseases and called for major changes in how we protect ourselves against them, but the necessary change did not occur . As soon as a health threat or deadly outbreak fades from memory, complacency sets in, in what has been called a cycle of panic and neglect. This cycle must end, ”says the WHO report, which urges policy makers to urgently prepare to prevent future outbreaks of new diseases from becoming pandemics. “If not now, then when?”

The report urges political leaders to commit to establishing a Global Council on Health Threats that maintains political commitment to pandemic preparedness and response and to establish a new global surveillance system based on full transparency. All the countries of the world, they indicate, should invest at the national level, review their contingency plans and allocate the necessary funds and personnel to be able to face future health crises.

 

The perfect Storm

The report coincides with the publication of an article in the scientific journal Virulence that concludes that our current way of life has created the perfect storm for the evolution and transmission of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. According to the article, the world’s high population of people, pets and livestock is a perfect breeding ground for promoting the transmission of infectious diseases to humans from other animals.

The authors explain the concept of ‘effective genetic size’, which indicates how much genetic variation can be maintained in a population. This genetic variation is essential to counteract the evolution of infectious diseases. The current biomass of livestock is ten times that of all wildlife combined, and in addition their effective genetic size is 80 times less than the minimum viable population size in wildlife species. “The combination of high livestock biomass and low genetic variation has tilted the coevolutionary equilibrium with zoonotic pathogens,” they indicate.

“Habitat destruction, illegal wildlife trade and other human activities have put many species in contact with each other, facilitating the spread, shedding and hybridization of pathogens. Since we are in close contact with our pets and livestock, there are many opportunities for viruses to spread from animals to humans and from humans to animals. Together, these conditions have created a perfect storm for the evolution and transmission of zoonotic infectious diseases. COVID-19 has shown us that humans are not immune to the evolutionary processes that drive the adaptations of pathogens, ”the article explains.

” It is time we begin to recognize that our health, the environment and our global economy are closely interrelated. Pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2 will continue to evolve as permitted infect to humans, anywhere in the world. In This represents a threat to the human population in general, also in countries that have the infection under control. Our society faces a significant threat, and we must all do what we can both individually and socially to improve our prospects for long-term as a species. These changes must be implemented globally to effectively combat pandemics. “

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