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COVID-19 Might Be Start Of ‘An Age Of Pandemics’, Experts Warn

by : Lucy Connolly on : 03 Sep 2020 16:11
COVID-19 Might Be Start Of An 'An Age Of Pandemics' Experts WarnCOVID-19 Might Be Start Of An 'An Age Of Pandemics' Experts WarnPA Images/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Public health experts are warning that the current pandemic could be proof we have many more to come, noting that we have ‘entered a pandemic era’.

New research draws upon ‘unprecedented pandemic explosions’ that have occurred in the past decade – such as the H1N1 ‘swine’ influenza in 2009, Chikungunya in 2014 and Zika in 2015 – to predict the acceleration of such widespread outbreaks in the years to come.

Top US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci and his National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases colleague, David Morens, have suggested this acceleration will be driven largely by deforestation, urban crowding and wet markets.

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Doctor Fauci Has Been Assigned Security After He And His Family Received 'Serious Threats'Doctor Fauci Has Been Assigned Security After He And His Family Received 'Serious Threats'PA Images

In research published last month in the journal Cell, Fauci and epidemiologist Morens stress that evidence suggests SARS, MERS and COVID-19 ‘are only the latest examples of a deadly barrage of coming coronavirus and other emergences’.

In the past 17 years alone, Morens noted that three novel coronaviruses have emerged after more than a century without any new ones.

When you consider there’s also been an explosion of Ebola outbreaks almost continuously over the past six years, a Zika pandemic and the global spread of fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever, it starts to look like more than a coincidence, the epidemiologist said.

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He told BuzzFeed News:

I don’t have a crystal ball, but what we are seeing looks very much like an acceleration of pandemics.

Coronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gel for hand hygieneCoronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gel for hand hygieneCoronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gel for hand hygieneCoronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gel for hand hygienePA Images

Emerging diseases expert Nikos Vasilakis, of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, agrees, stating, ‘These pandemics do seem to be an increasing trend that look like they are going to happen more often, that is a fact.’

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And while he said he doesn’t think such pandemics are avoidable, he does believe ‘it is preventable’. The way to do this is by changing the way we treat each disease; by stopping treating them as a one-off emergency and something that bucks the trend.

Instead, Gregory Gray of the Duke Global Health Institute said we need to look into the future and start moving towards lowering the risks for potential outbreak hotspots where people and animals are crowded together.

Squirrel Tests Positive For Bubonic PlagueSquirrel Tests Positive For Bubonic PlaguePA Images

Last week, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) named 10 centres for research into emerging diseases to investigate pathogens that might pass from wild animals to people, such as SARS, MERS, and SARS-CoV-2.

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And while this is certainly a step in the right direction, Morens said a lot more is needed to protect us from future pandemics: ‘We cannot predict the emergence of any one pandemic, and it’s possible this trend will just go away. But I wouldn’t bet on it.’

It’s okay to not panic about everything going on in the world right now. LADbible and UNILAD’s aim with our campaign, Cutting Through, is to provide our community with facts and stories from the people who are either qualified to comment or have experienced first-hand the situation we’re facing. For more information from the World Health Organization, click here.

Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Health, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Now, Pandemic

Credits

Cell and 1 other
  1. Cell

    Emerging Pandemic Diseases: How We Got to COVID-19

  2. BuzzFeed News

    COVID-19 Might Mean Humanity Has Entered An Age Of Pandemics, Tony Fauci Warned