Prevention of Next Pandemic
On 12 March 2020, WHO (World Health Organization) declared COVID-19 as a pandemic after spreading in 114 countries in three months and infecting over 118,000 people. Pandemic is declared when an epidemic occurs worldwide, or over a very wide area, crossing international boundaries and usually affecting a large number of people. Before COVID-19, many pandemics came and left with remarkable effect on humankind and this will also not be the world’s last pandemic so it is high time we should take some measurement for facing such problems.
Pandemic also affects the economy of the country and eventually the growth of the country. And according to an expert if we don’t take proper steps for the prevention of such situations then future pandemics may occur often and kill more people than ever. So it is high time to take some preventive measures to avoid future pandemics.
Right now first and foremost priority of the entire humankind must be to plank the curve through self-isolation. – Abhijit Naskar
In the rush to back to normal, use this time to decide which parts of normal are worth rushing – Dave Hollis
STATISTICS – What Numbers have to Say?
- The deadliest pandemic in the world was smallpox, it took approximately 300 million lives till 1979.
- In 1980, WHO declared smallpox eradicated, and till now it is only one disease that humans can successfully wipe out.
- Black death claimed 200 million lives in 4 years.
- From 1918 to 1920, The Spanish flu pandemic claimed 100 million lives.
- Till 12 April 2021, COVID-19 took 29,49,419 lives worldwide from which 5,75,829 were from the USA only.
DESCRIPTION – Let’s take a Deep Dive
History of Pandemics:
As human civilization started evolving, the birth of different diseases was unavoidable. With the progress of civilization, humans started living close to each other and with animals. The sanitization was compromised in this stage due to a lack of knowledge.
The environment required for the birth of many diseases was accelerated by a lack of proper sanitization and care. Crowded societies helped various viruses to spread rapidly. With globalization, viruses were transferred from one country to another or sometimes from one continent to other. Now let’s take a sneak peek at the history of the pandemic.
One of the earliest pandemics was recorded in Athens during the Peloponnesian war in 430 B.C. Up to two-thirds of the population died. This disease covered Libya, Ethiopia, and Egypt and then entered Athens through Spartans. Common symptoms of this disease were fever, thirst, bloody throat and tongue, red skin, and lesions.
The three deadliest pandemic events were caused due to a single bacterium Yersinia pestis, known as Plague.
The Plague of Justinian started in Egypt in 541 A.D. From there it spread to Palestine, the Byzantine Empire, and then throughout the Mediterranean. It was spread due to Plague-ridden fleas that hitched a ride on the black rats that snacked on the grain. This disease spread like wildfire across Europe, Asia, North Africa, and Arabia killing an estimated 30 to 50 million people, perhaps half of the world’s population. It repeatedly attacked back for the next two centuries. It was considered the first attack of the bubonic plague.
The plague returned after 800 years. This time it started in Asia but Europe was hard hit in 1347 with the name Black Death. The Black Death claimed 200 million life in just 4 years. It was the first time when Quarantine concept comes into the picture. At that time people didn’t exactly know the reason behind this disease and how to stop it. But they understood it has something to do with proximity. So it was decided to keep newly arrived sailors in isolation for 30 days. This period was eventually increased to 40 days. This was the second large outbreak of the bubonic plague.
The third outbreak of the bubonic plague was The Great Plague of London in 1665. Around 20% of London’s population was led to death.
Smallpox was endemic to Europe, Asia, and Arabia for centuries, a persistent menace that killed three out of ten people it infected and left the rest with pockmarked scars.
Different types of Flu pandemics like Russian Flu, Spanish Flu, Asian Flu, and Swine Flu:
- During the early to mid 19th century, Cholera killed tens of thousands of people. While cholera has been eradicated in developed countries, it’s still a persistent killer in third-world countries lacking adequate sewage treatment and access to clean drinking water.
- In 2003, SARS (Several Acute Respiratory Syndrome) characterized by respiratory problems, dry cough, fever, and head and body aches was spreading through respiratory droplets from coughs and sneezes. It was believed that SARS started with bats, spread to cats, and then to humans in China, followed by 26 other countries. It infected 8,096 people, with 774 deaths, in this pandemic quarantine proved to be effective. It stopped the spreading of the virus and it never comes back
- After SARS, pandemics like H1N1, EBOLA, ZIKA were curbed with the knowledge of prior events.
- Currently COVID-19 pandemic is spreading faster than ever. The first case was found on 17 November 2019 in Wuhan, China. Initially, it was unrecognized and without proper vaccination, it spread beyond Chinese borders to nearly every country in the world.
How to Prevent the Next Pandemic?
Since we can’t exactly predict when and where the next pandemic will start, scientists have also made strides in applying a multidisciplinary approach to predict the emergence of new outbreaks.
- Reduce Deforestation
- Over the past century, two animal viruses emerged and according to experts vital reason behind this is deforestation.
- As humans move deeper into the forest they are exposing themselves to new animals and diseases that come with them. This process is known as virus spillover.
- So government should remove subsidies favouring deforestation, restrict private land clearing, and support the territorial rights of Indigenous people.
- Government should encourage tree plantation activities.
- Limit the global wildlife trade
- Wildlife markets and the legal and illegal trade of wildlife for pets, meat, or medicine increases transmission.
- The wild animal trade puts species in contact with each other and eventually other diseases that they likely would have never encountered naturally.
- Efforts should be made to ban national and international trade of high-risk species like primates, bats, pangolins, civets, and rodents.
- Government should start an awareness program on animal handling, sanitation, disease transmission, and sustainable wildlife management.
- Early detection
- For preventing the next pandemic government should take some immediate steps like early detection and control measures, including creating a library of virus genetics that could be used to pinpoint the source of a newly emerging pathogen at an early stage to slow or stop its spread.
- Countries can identify the regions that are most vulnerable to virus spillover and can target the communities in those regions to benefit from the disease prevention strategies, including effective sanitation infrastructure and education programs.
- Upgrade Healthcare facilities and Proactive Vaccination
- The medical facilities in each nation have to be upgraded in order to compensate for rising cases within a stipulated period of time.
- Alternate arrangements in case hospital facilities are exhausted.
- Instead of getting hold of vaccination business across borders(exports), the people of the country should be vaccinated on priority.
How to take care of yourself during the Pandemic?
- Wash your hand regularly.
- Wear a mask while stepping out of the home.
- Stay away from infected people.
- If you have any symptoms then get medical help as early as possible.
- Eat hygienic and healthy food to boost your immunity.
- Sneeze on the bend of the elbow.
- Keep sanitiser and tissue paper or handkerchief with you.
- Avoid travelling – The nationwide spread can be curtailed with the help of testings carried on Airports and International Ports.
After tracing the pandemic history, it can be clearly stated that isolation of infected person is the best solution to stop further spread. The most important stage to fight against pandemic is educating people with information on symptoms and prevention guide. World Health Organization(WHO) can come up with an independent department that tracks pandemic growth. A lot of work to be done in the field of Research and Development of Healthcare Systems.
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Author – Vaishnavi Guntoorkar