We can prevent the next pandemic (commentary)

We can prevent the next pandemic (commentary)

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, together with two dozen other leaders from around the world, have called for a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response. This proposal will be considered by global leaders at the World Health Assembly in less than a month. Their emphasis on preparing our health systems to respond to the next disease outbreak faster and better is extremely important. But these measures will not stop the emergence of new disease. Leading public health experts agree. We have seen how even the best equipped countries, including the United States, Germany, and the UK, struggled and failed in their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s only when we prevent new diseases before they start — at the source, where humans and animals come into close contact – that we will become less vulnerable to pathogens that consistently defeat our best efforts to contain them. This argument is not new.  Biologists and public health experts warned that our increased and careless encounters with wildlife were making a pandemic like COVID-19 inevitable, but politicians ignored the warnings. Live bamboo rats for sale in a market in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR. Photo credit: Rhett A. Butler COVID-19, as well as other new diseases like HIV/AIDS, H1N1, SARS and MERS, all have one thing in common. They are viruses that jumped from other species into humans, a process known as “spillover.” This phenomenon is more likely to occur when humans or our domestic…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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