Infectious disease doctors have for some time been worried about another Spanish Flu-style pandemic, fearing that the world is overdue for one. This article from The Independent seems a bit engineered to incite alarm, but it is still a good message. A pandemic could arise at any time, and people will probably be surprised when it does.
The Global Preparedness Monitoring Board (GPMB), a new body assembled by the World Bank and the World Health Organisation formed after the west African Ebola outbreak, has said governments must make considerably larger efforts to prepare for and mitigate that risk.
In its first annual report, the GPMB said there is an “acute risk for devastating regional or global disease epidemics or pandemics that not only cause loss of life but upend economies and create social chaos”.
“The threat of a pandemic spreading around the globe is a real one,” the group said in a report released on Wednesday.
“A quick-moving pathogen has the potential to kill tens of millions of people, disrupt economies and destabilise national security.”
“While disease has always been part of the human experience, a combination of global trends, including insecurity and extreme weather, has heightened the risk. Disease thrives in disorder and has taken advantage–outbreaks have been on the rise for the past several decades and the spectre of a global health emergency looms large.
It added: “There is a very real threat of a rapidly moving, highly lethal pandemic of a respiratory pathogen killing 50 to 80 million people and wiping out nearly 5 per cent of the world’s economy.
“A global pandemic on that scale would be catastrophic, creating widespread havoc, instability and insecurity. The world is not prepared.”