Ending the threat of another pandemic forever?

Published June 29, 2022, 4:12 AM

by Wilma C. Inventor-Miranda

                                                      


I was in the airport when I came across a very interesting reading – a book by Bill Gates ‘NO MORE PANDEMICS.’ 

Whoever would have thought that the world will be conquered by this unseen enemy – the virus? Nobody was prepared for it. Countries especially the rich, more developed ones had invested billions of dollars on weapons for physical war but was caught unaware when the Covid-19 attacked. It killed more people than the physical wars on earth. 

The pandemic is now transforming into an endemic but it provides a good lesson for all not to take this enemy for granted or else when everything turns back to normal, everybody forgot the lesson learned and it is back to square one when another virus attacks again. 

According to The Economist  “viruses have big impacts on ecology and evolution as well as human health” and may I add to the economy as well. It further describes it as “ubiquitous, diverse and very powerful”. 

But how are countries learning from the pandemic and preparing to protect the world or particularly their own countries from the havoc that a virus brings? 

Is it really possible to prevent another pandemic forever? According to Mr. Gates in the above-mentioned book,  this is one question that countries should care about. And for him, it is really possible that no such pandemic will happen again provided the following measures are in place.
 
For one, we already have existing tools  to use  which were developed during pandemics and a better understanding of infectious diseases and how to contain them.


Mr. Gates outlined steps on how we can make this the last pandemic forever while continuing to use the tools which were developed during the pandemic and the progress made in understanding infectious diseases. 

The first step is when an outbreak is identified, hopefully in a quick manner by local public health agencies which during the pandemic were trained to detect even in the poorest countries in the world, this is shared with scientists for study and a global database was created which was monitored by a dedicated team. The next step is for the government to sound the alarm and to suggest protocols on travel, social distancing, and emergency planning. Tools that were used during the pandemic such as quarantines, antivirals that can protect from almost any strain, and tests that can be made anywhere. 

This is so encouraging knowing that our fears can be mitigated if not altogether allayed. This is one book that everybody should read – knowing that behind everybody’s subconscious mind the fear of another pandemic is still there. 

But it does not stop in these steps. Mr. Gates with his foresight is also looking into the risk should there be a possible new threat that cannot be addressed by the existing tools and system. He suggested that this is the time when the world’s innovators, who during the pandemic  were identified ( which I hope more innovators will arise) will conduct new tests, new treatments and vaccines. 

We learn from the pandemic how to test people in a fast manner. And the approval of new drugs and vaccines is done quickly – whereas before it takes years – before a vaccine can be rolled out. Factories are ready to manufacture since factories were already set up during the crisis. Diagnostics in particular ramp up extremely fast so that large numbers of people can be tested in a short time. And drugs and vaccines which were newly developed can be approved quickly since procedures have been agreed  upon on safely running trials and sharing results 

Rich and poor countries can be easily reached by vaccines because communication and delivery systems were already established. If these measures are implemented within 100 days, shared with scientists for study, and the information is uploaded to a global database monitored by a dedicated team, then we don’t have to go through the sufferings we had experienced during the pandemic – the loss of lives, loss of income, mental health problems and fears gripping the heart of the people. 

If there is one major benefit that this pandemic brings, is that we learn that an invisible enemy – the virus – is ready to devour and we should know how to defeat it even before it strikes. As Mr. Gates mentioned in his book ” the world was not ready for Covid, but we can choose to be ready next time”.

(Wilma Miranda is Managing Partner of Inventor, Miranda & Associates, CPAs, Chair of the Ethics Committee of FINEX, Treasurer of Negros Outsourcing Services, Inc., and member of the Board of Directors of KPS Outsourcing, Inc. The views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinion of these institutions.)

 
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