World had been forewarned by Bill Gates that it must prepare for pandemics
In an eponymous lecture published in Boston, The New England Journal of Medicine, in April 2018, he said we are not prepared or equipped to cope with an unknown infectious airborne pathogen, that could devastate countries with unparalleled death rates. In this inter-connected world, he said “it is not a question of if, but of when”.
He added what is needed for our safety, if not our survival, is coordinated global preparedness. It involves compiling a database with an early warning diagnostic detection system for disease surveillance, supported by better preventive and treatment regimens.
He said we need to arrange for a stockpile of antibodies and the rapid response ability to produce safe and effective vaccines and anti-virals.
He outlined further proposals including the availability of the army backed by a reserve corps of trained personnel and volunteers, to transport people, facilities and supplies.
Gates might be considered a latter day John Snow, the physician who persuaded authorities to dismantle the Broad St drinking water pump in 19th century London, because it had become a cesspool for transmitting cholera.
His collaborative suggestions would be costly, and probably impossible to enforce. Sweden for instance takes a different view on herd immunity to some other countries. North Korea is in denial and claims no cases of the infectious coronavirus.
Again China is reluctant to stamp out the wild animal water markets, because of their cultural and economic importance.
In the US, Donald Trump keeps changing his mind.
Even at the local level, some politicians continue to view everything through an orange/green lens.
Dr William Lowry, Bangor
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