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Luck is not a strategy: The world needs to start preparing now for the next pandemic

May 18, 2021

Republished with permission from STAT. This article originally appeared on May 18, 2021 at https://www.statnews.com/2021/05/18/luck-is-not-a-strategy-the-world-needs-to-start-preparing-now-for-the-next-pandemic/

As countries grapple with the worst global pandemic in a century, it’s hard to think about preparing for the next one. But if we don’t, it could be worse than Covid-19.

Over the last 30 years, infectious disease outbreaks have emerged with alarming regularity. The World Health Organization lists an influenza pandemic and other high-threat viral diseases such as Ebola and dengue among the top 10 biggest threats to public health. The rate of animal-to-human transmission of viruses has been increasing, with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimating that 75% of new infectious diseases in humans come from animals.

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Authored by Andy Plump, President of Research & Development at Takeda

These zoonotic infections can have profound effects on human life. The overall infection fatality rate is around 10% for severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), between 40% and 75% for Nipah virus, and as high as 88% for Ebola.

While the infection fatality rate for Covid-19 is lower — likely less than 1% — the overall burden of death has been significantly higher since it has affected so many people, more than 160 million people as I write this.

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