Future Pandemics Pose Major Risk

Pandemics

A future pandemic, relating to a viral or bacterial outbreak, poses a major risk to human society according to an alarming new report. The report is titled “The Neglected Dimension of Global Security: A Framework to Counter Infectious Disease Crises”, and it has been produced by an independent think-tank called Commission on a Global Health Risk Framework for the Future.

The report warns that given the increased interconnectedness of the planet, especially in terms of people movement, the next pandemic (whatever its microbial origin) could potentially kill millions of people and cause trillions of dollars of damage to economic activity.

A concern of the report authors is the general lack of preparation by governments for such a crisis. It notes poor infrastructure and weak national security, in relation to most countries. An estimate is made of the spending required to equip most countries with an adequate structure: $4.5 billion, per year. Most of this money would need to go to less-developed countries because they are starting from a weak base. Financing, the report recommends, should come via the World Bank.

In a statement, Commission chair Peter Sands writes:

“We have neglected this dimension of global security. Pandemics don’t respect national boundaries, so we have a common interest in strengthening our defenses against infectious diseases in every part of the world.”

Examples of potential threats are Ebola, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and the influenza virus H1N1. Here, the report notes, research and development into novel drug treatments is weak.

Computer modelling predicts one major pandemic in the next 100 years, and a 1 in 5 chance of there being at least four major outbreaks.

The report can be accessed here.

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.

  • Victor Grayson

    This report is very timely, given the problems with the Ebola epidemic and how poorly equipped African countries were.