Scientists from the University of Virginia have urged governments worldwide to back a new proposal for a “rapid response” plan. The proposal calls for the creation of an advanced information system that scientists can use to help detect new pathogens, before they are able to spread and become the next pandemic threat. The University of Virginia’s Doctor Wladek Minor and colleagues have called for the urgent creation of an internationally recognised “advanced information system” that helps scientists in pathogen outbreak hot-spots reveal the molecular information of truly dangerous pathogens that could constitute a pandemic threat.
In a recently released paper focused on strategic planning to combat the next pandemic threat, Doctor Minor said: “Creating an advanced information system will undoubtedly require the collaboration of many scientists who are experts in their respective fields.
“This seems to be the only way to prepare biomedical science for the next pandemic.
“In the history of humanity, the COVID-19 pandemic is relatively mild by comparison with the bubonic plague, Black Death, that killed a hundred times more people.
“We might not be so lucky next time.”
The researchers from the University of Virginia said it was crucial that the data compiled on different pathogens was as accurate as possible.
They said that a new system of information communication would ensure conformity across disciplines and allow for less confusion and more swift identification of the next threat.
Doctor Minor said: “Almost 100,000 COVID-19-related papers have been published and over a thousand models of macromolecules encoded by SARS-CoV-2 have been experimentally determined in about a year.
“No single human can possibly digest this volume of information.
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The key findings of the study were that “almost half the world’s most connected cities straddle animal-human spillover hotspots”.
Animal-human spillover, is a term given to pathogens that have mutated and been transmitted from an animal reservoir into humans.
The report found that South and southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have the most cities at greatest risk.
The paper from the University of Sydney was called, “Whence the next pandemic?”.
The rationale behind the study discovered that “the intersecting global geography of the animal-human interface, poor health systems and air transit centrality reveals conduits for high-impact spillover”.
The lead author of the study, Doctor Michael Walsh, who co-leads the One Health Node at Sydney’s Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, said: “Our new research integrates the wildlife-human interface with human health systems and globalisation to show where spillovers might go unidentified and lead to dissemination worldwide and new pandemics.”
The scientist added: “With this new information, people can develop systems that incorporate human health infrastructure, animal husbandry, wildlife habitat conservation, and movement through transportation hubs to prevent the next pandemic.
“Given the overwhelming risk absorbed by so many of the world’s communities and the concurrent high-risk exposure of so many of our most connected cities, this is something that requires our collective prompt attention.”