“. . . . A radical shift is also needed in the way that tests, vaccines and drugs are designed so that entire groups of pathogens are targeted instead of individual pathogens that are already known. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States is working on a universal flu vaccine that would cover all known strains of influenza; a universal coronavirus vaccine, an Ebola-virus vaccine and others will also be needed.
With a smaller investment, we can also try to get ahead of pandemics by working with communities in hot spots of emerging diseases. Disease surveillance should be focused on farmers, rural communities and anyone who has extensive contact with wildlife, to look for unusual illnesses, test for novel pathogens and work with people to develop alternatives to high-risk activities such as the wildlife trade.
Pandemics are like terrorist attacks: We know roughly where they originate and what’s responsible for them, but we don’t know exactly when the next one will happen. They need to be handled the same way — by identifying all possible sources and dismantling those before the next pandemic strikes.”
Peter Daszak is a disease ecologist and the president of EcoHealth Alliance, in New York.