The Center for Global Climate, Health and Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Global Institute of Health launched a task force last month with the mission of preventing future pandemics.
Led by Aaron Bernstein, interim director of Harvard Chan C-CHANGE and a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School The Scientific Pandemic Prevention Task Force at Burim hopes to shift the focus of the pandemic-related discussion from management and treatment to prevention, especially at critical points where diseases are transmitted from animals to humans.
The reality is that now, almost all discussions about preventing another pandemic are limited to just after people get sick, Bernstein said in an interview. But there is a big hole in this approach, which is the reality that these new infections come in overwhelming majority from a spread of pathogens from wildlife to humans sometimes through livestock.
If we fail to address it, then we can spend all the money we want on things that help us after people get sick, but they may not help much, he added.
Across several continents, the task force consists of researchers in various fields of scientific expertise, including the environment, biomedicine, public health, and epidemiology.
Deborah T. Kochevar, a task force member and former dean at Tufts Cummings University School of Veterinary Medicine, noted the importance of having a diverse lineup of scientists in the task force.
“Since we come from different backgrounds and bring different perspectives, then I think we can have knowledge that will be particularly useful in terms of focusing on pandemic prevention,” she said.
Recent research has shown that investing in short-term spill prevention can save a considerable amount of money in the future, according to Bernstein.
We can spend somewhere around $ 20 billion to $ 30 billion a year to focus efforts on countries where we have seen diseases appear more often, he said. If we spent that amount every year for a decade, we would have spent only about one percent, maybe two, of the total cost of Covid-19.
Task Force member Guilherme L. Werneck, a professor of epidemiology at Rio de Janeiro State University, said the task force aims to use preventive planning to address the expanding effects of the pandemic on other issues such as environmental concerns. population movement and poverty.
For example, if you prevent deforestation, you also affect climate change, so you are not only preventing another pandemic, but you are also helping to improve our environment and our overall health, Werneck said.
Bernstein said the task force aims to have a report that assesses the science surrounding the spread and recommends actions to prevent spills by the end of the summer. Once the report is complete, the task force will work with government leaders as well as leaders from the private and non-profit sectors to ensure that the report’s findings and recommendations are well used, he added.
The task force search will translate into policy recommendations to inform global leaders’ discussions at two international conferences: the G20 Summit in October and the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change in November.
These kinds of diseases, they do not respect the borders of countries, said Werneck. Without multilateral cooperation, they are not going anywhere.
Staff Writer Ariel H. Kim can be reached at [email protected]
Staff Writer Anjeli R. Macaranas can be reached at [email protected]
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