It is a long-term challenge for the world to improve the response capacity to the epidemic. In recent years, global health experts have repeatedly reminded that the spread speed and severity of the pandemic are comparable to that of the 1918 pandemic, which will happen sooner or later. The bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested a lot of resources in recent years to help the world prepare for such an epidemic.
We are not ready for the next pandemic
Today, we are also facing a crisis under our eyes. Novel coronavirus has been showing signs not occur even in a hundred years, which we have been worried about for the past week. 2019. I hope it wont be so bad, but we should be well prepared.
The threat of novel coronavirus pneumonia is mainly due to two reasons. First, novel coronavirus pneumonia can cause death in healthy adults, except for the elderly who already have health problems. The current data show novel coronavirus 2019 has a mortality rate of about 1%, which is between 1957 influenza (mortality rate 0.6%) and 1918 influenza (mortality rate 2%), indicating that it is several times more severe than the typical seasonal flu.
Secondly, the novel coronavirus pneumonia has a strong transmission capacity. On average, an infected person can infect two or three people, forming exponential growth. There is also definite evidence that it can be transmitted through mild or even asymptomatic patients. This means that the novel coronavirus pneumonia will be more difficult to control than the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and atypical pneumonia (SARS), because MERS and SARS are transmitted only through patients with symptoms, and the transmission power is much lower. In fact, the novel coronavirus pneumonia has resulted in ten times the diagnosis of SARS in just 1/4 of the time.
2019 novel coronavirus (source: Scientists)
The novel coronavirus pneumonia is being slowed down by national and local governments and public health agencies in the coming weeks. For example, in addition to protecting their citizens, donor governments should help low - and middle-income countries prepare for the epidemic. Many health systems in novel coronavirus are already very weak in the middle and low income countries, and 2019 new coronaviruses will soon overwhelm them. In addition, given that richer countries naturally put the interests of their own people first, poorer countries will lack political and economic capital to get support.
By preparing countries in Africa and South Asia, we can not only save lives, but also slow the global spread of the virus. Novel coronavirus pneumonia (Melinda and I recently committed to invest $100 million to support the global response to the new crown pneumonia epidemic, a large part of which will be used to support low and middle-income countries).
We need to accelerate novel coronavirus pneumonia treatment and vaccine development. In a few days, scientists have mastered the genome sequence of the virus and developed promising vaccine candidates. The Innovation Alliance for epidemic prevention (CEPI) has been preparing eight promising candidate vaccines for clinical trials. If one or more of these vaccines proved to be safe and effective in animal models, they could enter large-scale clinical trials as early as June. Using the compound library that has passed the safety test and new screening technology (including machine learning), scientists can select antiviral drugs that can be used in large-scale clinical trials in a few weeks, thus accelerating the process of drug development.
New technologies such as gene sequencing are speeding up the development of drugs (source: Network)
All of these measures will help to deal with the current crisis. But we still need to make systematic adjustments to ensure a more efficient response to the next pandemic.
It is also necessary to help low - and middle-income countries strengthen their primary health care systems. When you build a clinic, youre also building infrastructure to fight infectious diseases. Trained health workers not only provide vaccines, they can also be part of an early warning system to monitor disease trends and alert the world of potential outbreaks.
The world also needs to invest in disease surveillance, including the creation of a database of cases that relevant agencies can access immediately, and the establishment of rules that require countries to share information. Governments should have a list of trained personnel - both local leaders and global experts - ready to respond to infectious disease outbreaks, as well as a list of materials to be stockpiled and mobilized in an emergency.
Imagine how passengers on international flights can bring the virus to different countries (source: Metro)
One of the main technical challenges with vaccines is to improve the way protein is produced. The traditional way is too slow to deal with infectious diseases. We need to develop a safe and reliable platform to ensure that regulatory review can be carried out quickly and that manufacturers can mass produce at a low cost. For antiviral drugs, we need an organized system to screen the existing treatment methods and candidate molecules in a fast and standardized way.
Another technical challenge involves building vaccines based on nucleic acids. The construction of vaccines can be completed within hours of the completion of virus genome sequencing, and now we need to find a way to mass produce them.
In addition to these technical solutions, we will need diplomatic efforts to promote international cooperation and data sharing. The development of antiviral drugs and vaccines involves a large number of cross-border clinical trials and licensing agreements. Through the global platform, we should promote rapid consensus on research priorities and test plans for promising candidate vaccines and antiviral drugs. These global platforms include the who & dblueprint, the international severe acute respiratory system and emerging infection consortium network, and the global research collaboration for infectious disease prevention and treatment. The goal of this work should be to obtain definite clinical trial results and regulatory approval under the premise of ensuring the safety of patients within three months or even less.
Then there is the question of money. The budget for these jobs needs to be multiplied. Completing phase III clinical trials of the new coronavirus vaccine and obtaining regulatory approval will require billions of dollars in additional investment. More money is needed to improve disease surveillance and response.
Achieving good health and well-being requires input from all over the world (source: Network)
Its not a small amount to invest billions of dollars to fight the pandemic, but its a necessary investment to solve the problem. And novel coronavirus pneumonia, which is the economic loss of the epidemic, is only worth considering if it looks at the impact of new crown pneumonia on the supply chain and stock market, let alone the impact on peoples lives.
Finally, the government and industry need to reach an agreement that vaccines and antiviral drugs should not be sold simply to the highest bidder during a pandemic, but should be sold at affordable prices to those at the center of the epidemic and who are most in need. This is not only the right approach, but also the right strategy to block the spread and prevent the epidemic from continuing to spread.
Global leaders should act immediately and without delay.