HomeGadgetsScientists warn that another pandemic could happen this century

Scientists warn that another pandemic could happen this century

On March 25, 2020, electronic billboards flashed instructions on the train station platform of the Washington, DC Archives Station.

On March 25, 2020, electronic billboards flashed instructions on the train station platform of the Washington, DC Archives Station.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla (Getty Images)

Researchers warn that the next pandemic may not be too far away. In a new paper published on Monday, they estimated that a deadly epidemic like covid-19 is expected to occur within the next 60 years, and an epidemic of the size of the Spanish flu in 1918 is expected to occur every 400 years. They also believe that, given that new and re-emerging diseases have become more common in recent decades, the annual probability of these extreme events may increase over time.

The world is currently in the second year of the covid-19 pandemic, so far Be killed There are at least 4.4 million people, and possibly more.Except for HIV/AIDS, at least it has been killed 36 million Since it emerged in the 1980s but is not always considered a pandemic, covid-19 is the deadliest pandemic since the Spanish flu, which caused 20 to 100 million deaths (most estimates are hovering around 50000000).

However, pandemics are not as rare as some people think. The last pandemic before covid-19 was ten years ago-the 2009 swine flu-and has occurred on average every 20 years in the past century. But researchers at Duke University and elsewhere say that they haven’t done much statistical work to estimate the likelihood of these major disease outbreaks—they hope to address this knowledge gap in their new paper. Publish In PNAS Magazine on Monday.

“First of all, I should say that we are not making predictions about the future. We are describing the possibility of a large-scale epidemic based on historical data,” study author William Penn, associate professor of global environmental health at Duke University, told Gizmodo in an email .

The team studied major epidemic records of plague, cholera, new influenza strains, and other pathogens dating back 350 years to arrive at their estimates.themSpecial attention Outbreaks of emerging or re-emerging diseases that have caused at least 10,000 deaths. They conflated epidemics that occurred in different places at about the same time, such as the plague that broke out simultaneously in the 17th and 18th centuries.With them Also ruled out the outbreak of the disease after it is controllable Through drugs such as antibiotics or vaccines, and currently ongoing epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, and covid-19 (in fact, this means that epidemics after 1945 are not included in their main analysis).

Overall, the frequency of major epidemics has varied greatly over the years, but they have indeed declined over time.But the team stated that the new method they previously used for statistical modeling estimate The risk of extreme weather events such as floods can determine the rough probability of the possibility of epidemics of different scales occurring each year.For something like covid-19, they estimate that the probability of a Covid-like incident occurring in any given year is now about 2%, which means it is expected to occur sometime in the next 59 years. Importantly, this does not mean that the next new coronavirus will appear in 59 years, but in 59 years, we should see it happen again. For things like the Spanish flu, they said that similar things are expected to happen every 400 years, or take decades.

Pan said that according to other studies, the more likely a pandemic should occur, the more likely it will decrease (so the Spanish flu event should be very rare). But the work of his team seems to show that this possibility, after all, does not decrease so quickly relative to the severity, so even a catastrophic epidemic can happen with surprising regularity.

As with all models, the work of supporting team mathematics is based on assumptions. So, in the final analysis, these figures are only estimates. But the authors believe that their baseline forecast may underestimate this problem, if any.They point out that small outbreaks of emerging and re-emerging diseases have Increase In recent decades. When they accounted for this increase in their model, they concluded that the annual probability of extreme epidemics could triple in the next few decades. This may mean that a Spanish flu-scale pandemic occurs on average every 127 years instead of 400 years.

Although the team did not investigate why these outbreaks are becoming more and more common, Pan cited other research showing that environmental changes have led to more contact between humans and animals, and these animals can carry these foreign bacteria. Poverty, poor sanitation and lack of a good health care system will cause the disease to continue to spread, as will the lack of cooperation between countries to monitor these threats.

The author said that the basic message here is that the possibility of a large-scale epidemic is relatively high. Because of this, we should do more to prevent them or weaken their influence when they arrive. “We obviously showed the potential threat of a global pandemic, but the real meaning here is how can we invest in global health and pandemic prevention more effectively?” Pan said.

Pan said that scientists should study the ongoing global response to covid-19 to determine what methods should be followed or avoided in the future, while recognizing that certain interventions may not be applicable to all future pandemic threats (masks may not be required) ), for example, depending on how the hypothetical pandemic spreads). We also need more teamwork between countries, preferably with the help of existing agencies such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

“But it’s not just about emergency response — it’s also about helping the poorest and most vulnerable countries — we need to ensure that we achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” Pan said, referring to the UN’s blueprint By 2030, reduce the impact of other major threats such as extreme poverty, inequality and climate change.

The team’s paper did not include their mathematical calculations on the possibility of a “big virus”-a deadly pandemic that could end humans. But they did make an estimate: According to their model, a pandemic that could kill everyone could happen in the next 12,000 years.On the bright side, there are many other things that might kill us all before then, such as Asteroid, Artificial Intelligence Super Intelligence, or Nuclear catastrophe.

Source link


Most Popular

Recent Comments