Covid-19 is not the last pandemic, the world must build resilience

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Covid-19 is neither the first nor the latest of the high-impact, rapidly-spreading pandemics that are causing large-scale disruption and death, disrupting economies and disrupting society. Pandemics emerge with higher frequency and become increasingly difficult to contain due to the convergence of several global ecological, political, economic and social trends, including population growth, urbanization, economic integration, faster travel, migration and climate change, experts say.

Coronavirus disease (Covid-19), which has already infected 2.4 million people and killed at least 165,000 people, is the second most devastating pandemic after the Spanish flu of 1918, which killed around 50 million people in 11 months between 1918 and 1919. The Spanish flu also hit India hard, the country registering its only decline in the ten-year population growth rate between 1911 and 1921, when the population fell by 0.31%. It was the only decade since 1901 to date when the country’s population has not increased, according to census data from India.

“Illnesses prone to epidemics such as the flu, severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), Middle East respiratory syndrome (Seas), Ebola, Zika, plague, yellow fever and others are the warning signs a new era of high impact, potentially rapid. the spread of epidemics that are more frequently detected and increasingly difficult to manage, “said The World At Risk 2019 report by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB). The report was written by 15 scientists and world leaders in public health, including India’s chief scientific advisor, Dr. K VijayRaghavan.

The World Health Organization (WHO) detected 1,483 epidemics in 172 countries between 2011 and 2018 and in 2019, warning that a new 2009-10 H1N1 flu pandemic was inevitable. But instead of the flu, which is causing havoc, it is a new coronavirus, the serious forms of which have had limited human-to-human transmission in the past.

The novelty of the Sars-CoV-2 virus, which causes Civid-19, and the secrecy that China has maintained around it has fueled persistent rumors that the virus is a biological weapon that accidentally leaked from a laboratory in the United States. Wuhan city, where the epidemic started. However, scientists have used the genetic material of Sars-Cov2 to establish its natural origin. “Our analyzes clearly show that Sars-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a deliberately manipulated virus,” according to an analysis published in the journal Nature Medicine on March 17.

Sars-CoV-2 is very closely related to Sars-CoV, but the overall genetic structure is distinct from known coronaviruses and most closely resembles the viruses found in bats and pangolins which were not known to cause damage to humans. “If someone was looking to design a new coronavirus as a pathogen, they would have built it from the backbone of a virus known to cause disease in humans,” said the Nature Medicine study, rejecting conspiracy theories about the laboratory origin of the virus.

So what makes Sars-CoV-2 different? A study of the genetic model has revealed that the advanced proteins (S) that cover the virus and give it its characteristic appearance of a crown have evolved to target a receptor outside human cells called ACE2, which is a key regulator of blood pressure and immunity, among other things, and is found on the outer surface of cells in the lungs, arteries, heart, kidneys, and human intestines.

What makes Sars-CoV-2 deadly is the ease with which it spreads and the severity of the disease it causes. There are seven coronaviruses that infect humans, including Sars-Cov, Mers-CoV and Sars-CoV-2 that can cause serious illness; the other four coronaviruses (HKU1, NL63, OC43 and 229E) cause mild cold symptoms.

Where does the virus come from? Coronaviruses jumped from Sars civets and Sea camels. In the case of Sars-CoV-2, it was most likely a bat, which transmitted the virus to an intermediate animal (most likely a pangolin), from where it spread to man.

Understanding whether the pathogenic capacities of viruses (capacities to cause diseases) have evolved in animals before it begins to infect humans, or have occurred in humans after having jumped from their animal host, will help determine the frequency at which such pandemics will occur in the future. “The chances of similar epidemics are lower if the virus infects humans and then develops its highly pathogenic properties. The virus does not mutate quickly, which gives hope for a vaccine, “said Dr. NK Ganguly, former executive director of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

There have been thousands of outbreaks in India in the past five years, ranging from annual cases like influenza (H1N1 and H3N2), acute encephalitis syndrome, chikungunya, dengue and measles, to more rare such as Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Kyasanur forest disease (monkey fever), nipah viral disease, scrub typhus and zika virus disease, among others, according to the integrated surveillance program for diseases of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The only way to contain health emergencies is to build an infrastructure to test, contain and treat. “I believe that the reality to come for the world will be one where we always defend ourselves against this enemy. Some kind of firefighters are necessary in place, and within this defense, we must then recover social interaction and economic activity, but so that we are all as safe as possible ”, Dr David Nabarro, Organization world health. special envoys on Covid-19, told Hindustan Times.

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