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Preventing Pandemics Is Cheaper Than Fighting Them

According to a study conducted by epidemiologists, economists, ecologists, and biologists from 21 institutions, we could reduce the risk of future pandemics by investing as little as one-twentieth of the losses incurred so far from COVID in conservation measures designed to prevent the spread of zoonotic viruses from wildlife to humans in the first place. This includes training more veterinarians, building a worldwide database on viral genomes, and stopping tropical deforestation and animal trafficking. The report was co-authored by researchers from 17 other universities, medical facilities, environmental charities, or government agencies in the United States, China, Brazil, South Africa, and Kenya. Another policy brief published in the journal "Science" discovered that taking preventative actions to lower the probability of a pandemic would cost around 500 times less than reacting to a pandemic. These studies demonstrate that a global change toward preventing pandemics intervention is required if we are to avert the catastrophic consequences of disease spreading.

Zoonotic Disease Surveillance

COVID-19 is a zoonotic disease at the center of the continuing epidemic. Reliable Source. These were passed down from nonhuman creatures to humans. The sickness induced by COVID-19 is caused by a coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. Many other dangerous diseases, such as HIV, SARS, MERS, and swine flu, have evolved due to this form of transmission. Infection occurs when people come into touch with animals or their flesh. Some crucial locations are the outskirts of tropical forests, which feature-rich, dense, diversified ecosystems and wild meat markets.

The report suggests that investing in initiatives to prevent tropical deforestation and international wildlife trafficking, halt the wild meat trade in China, and increase disease tracking and management globally in wild and domestic animals would be an excellent place to start. The study's authors highlight that COVID, SARS, HIV, Ebola, and many other viruses developed in the previous century started in wild settings and wild animals before spreading to people. Tropical forest borders where people have cut more than 25% of the trees for farming or other uses. Marketplaces where wild animals, dead or alive, are traded are hotbeds for these animal-to-human viral transfers.

"The simple truth is that until we stop harming the ecosystem and selling wild creatures as pets, meat, or medication, these illnesses will continue to spread. And, as the present pandemic demonstrates, managing them is prohibitively expensive and difficult, "Pimm said. "COVID has been around for two years, and the remedy is still not working. Not enough individuals are vaccinated in the United States, where vaccinations are available and affordable, and not enough vaccines are sent to other countries that cannot afford them."

Ecology And Economics For Pandemic Prevention

The world is witnessing firsthand the staggering expenditures of reacting to a pandemic, not to mention the tragic loss of life. According to the policy brief (published in the journal Science), the current pandemic will cost $8.1 and $15.8 trillion globally. Investing in preventative measures that would considerably lower the likelihood of a pandemic developing, on the other hand, would likely cost 500 times less than the present epidemic's anticipated cost: roughly $22–31 billion each year, according to the researchers.

These preventative steps may include extending wildlife trade monitoring programs, stopping the wild meat trade, cutting deforestation by half, and investing in initiatives to decrease disease transfer from wildlife to domestic, farmed animals. The researchers emphasize that the preventative response must be global, even if the funding is focused on specific challenges in individual nations. "The pandemic provides an incentive to do something [to address] urgent and dangerous problems to individuals, and that's what pushes people," Dr. Kaufman adds.

Preventing The Next Pandemic

Recent research published in Science Advances in February 2022 by epidemiologists, economists, ecologists, and conservation biologists from 21 universities made the following suggestions for investment to prevent the next pandemic.

  • By investing just 5% of the anticipated yearly economic losses associated with COVID-related human mortality in environmental conservation and early-stage disease surveillance, the chances of future zoonotic pandemics might be cut in half. This might save around 1.6 million lives per year and cut mortality costs by almost $10 trillion per year.
  • One significant suggestion of the current research is that part of the money be used to train more veterinarians and wildlife disease scientists.
  • Another important proposal is to establish a worldwide database of viral genomes, which may be used to identify the source of newly developing infections early enough to reduce or stop their spread and, ultimately, accelerate the development of vaccines and diagnostic tests.

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