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Anticipating The Next Pandemic

There is no guarantee that the next pandemic will involve a respiratory virus. The recent proliferation of rodents in Australia suggests that a virus or bacterium carried by such animals might be the next threat we face

By Anil Madan

The journal Foreign Affairs recently republished a 2005 article by Michael T. Osterholm titled Preparing ForThe Next Pandemic. A version of his article also appeared that same year in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). Osterholm is a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Director of its Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. He is well known to Americans as a frequent commentator on the Covid-19 pandemic since 2020. Osterholm had a dire warning: “Can disaster be avoided? The answer is a qualified yes. Although a coming pandemic cannot be avoided, its impact can be considerably lessened.”

We should not lose sight of the fact that Osterholm was predicting that a strain of the H5N1 influenza virus would cause the next pandemic although he did allow that it could be caused by a novel strain. He reasoned that the increasing incidence of H5N1 infections in both humans and animals, near misses with respect to sustained human-to-human transmission and increases in the pathogenicity of the H5N1 Z genotype due to ongoing genetic changes, and a sort of perfect storm mix of people, pigs, and poultry in Asia was akin to having a laboratory capable of generating the next virulent strain. Read More… Become a Subscriber


Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 13 May 2022

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