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  • The disease has already claimed more victims than Legionnaires' disease and toxic shock

  • syndrome combined.

  • This is the deadliest outbreak of Ebola on record.

  • There are a lot of experts around the world who do not yet know how contagious this is,

  • how deadly this new virus is.

  • Here in the U.S. panic is increasing around the world about the pandemic.

  • As the disease spreads to North America, the consequences are multiplying.

  • The World Health Organization has declared a swine flu pandemic.

  • Is the world ready for the coronavirus?

  • Cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox, and influenza, are some of the most deadly diseases in human history.

  • And when they spread across regions of the world, an epidemic becomes a pandemic and

  • it can result in more deaths than wars and natural disasters.

  • A good example of that is the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, which took place just as the First

  • World War was ending. Some historians believe that up to 100 million people died. In other

  • words, many more people than died in the war itself.

  • And when a newly identified coronavirus emerged in China in late 2019, governments reacted

  • like they had in the past:

  • With quarantines and travel bans, while researchers raced to create a vaccine.

  • We tend to think about managing an epidemic episode like this in terms of public health

  • or science. But in fact, what I would argue is at the root of many of the issues here

  • are sort of social, cultural, political issues, practices, how people live, working environments,

  • how people travel, why they live in cities.

  • In 1980 some predicted that science would overcome epidemics.

  • That was the year the World Health Organization declared one of the biggest killers in human

  • history was eradicated: smallpox.

  • In its 3,000-year existence, this one disease killed an estimated 300 million people worldwide.

  • The global vaccination program had prevailed and many virologists at the time were declaring

  • an end to infectious diseases.

  • That's a sort of shining example, right, of a great optimism that human

  • societies could actually put an end to disease. At the time that smallpox was being eradicated

  • was precisely the time that other emerging infectious diseases like Ebola were coming

  • onto the scene.

  • Smallpox is still the only human disease to be eradicated.

  • And more have been popping up, making the jump from animals to humans.

  • When people started to settle and cities developed about 10,000 years ago, our relationship with

  • animals also changed and spillovers took place. Like smallpox, measles, tuberculosis, influenza,

  • et cetera, originated in animal populations. And obviously, that was a very big change

  • from hunter gatherers where there wasn't a possibility of diseases to be sustained in large populations.

  • Diseases that are able to live between species like SARS, make it nearly impossible to eradicate.

  • That's why the plague, which exists in rodents and killed between 75 to 200 million people

  • in Eurasia, still exists to this day.

  • Ebola, MERS, SARS, rise a very complicated interspecies relations. And they exist in

  • reservoirs in the wild. Those diseases are very difficult for us to tackle.

  • Wild animals are just a small piece of the puzzle.

  • The last century saw an industrialization of livestock, making a perfect intermediary

  • for diseases.

  • And in 2009 we saw the H1N1 influenza virus make the jump from pigs to people.

  • The world is now at the start of the 2009 influenza pandemic.

  • The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that as many as 575,000 people died

  • from H1N1 during the first year the virus circulated.

  • So when you mass produce animals and you have an outbreak, it's very easy for the

  • for the disease to move very rapidly through the animal populations and then linked to

  • all of these is bigger environmental issues: climate changemeans that

  • diseases that could exist in some areas are moving into other areas. We're seeing

  • mosquito borne diseases move into areas where it wasn't posing a problem.

  • According to the WHO, a global temperature increases of 2 to 3ºC would increase the

  • number of people who are at risk of malaria by around 3-5%, or several hundred million.

  • Malaria already killed 405,000 people in 2018.

  • And linked to all of this is urbanization.

  • Millions of people, living side by side, allowing diseases to spread rapidly.

  • There are sort of environmental reasons why diseases happen in certain places.

  • But I think that the fact that you've got mass cities, the fact you've got a lot of people

  • moving certainly helps in the spread of disease.

  • And that's why how governments respond is more crucial than ever.

  • Critics of the coronavirus travel bans say that it only exacerbates the outbreak:

  • shortages become more common, people suffering from non-coronavirus related illnesses have

  • difficulty making it to hospitals, and many flee before the measures are implemented.

  • There isn't sufficient data that shows travel bans actually do anything to stop the spread.

  • It's interesting that as this corona virus outbreak is happening. We've got an H5N1 outbreak

  • in a poultry farm in China. We've got H1N1 in Taiwan. There are many other diseases around

  • and they could pose problems. We've had African swine fever decimating pig population. 300

  • million pigs have died. So I think there's an issue about what diseases gets focused

  • on why it gets focused on what the politics of that is.

  • What's clear is in order to tackle infectious diseases, a more integrated approach that

  • considers all of the variables is needed.

  • Over the last 10, 15 years has been a move towards one health, which is an integrated

  • health that essentially tries to put human health and animal health together to say that

  • actually we can't deal with human health unless we integrate and think about what's happening

  • in animal populations. I think we need to go further.

  • A much more integrated approach that draws on insights about how human behavior determines

  • disease dynamics. Unless we understand these cultural social processes. I think we're

  • not going to be in a very strong position in the future to tackle outbreaks.

  • Understanding that new outbreaks are a complex issue that depends on more than just vaccines

  • and sanitationthat they're interwoven in the way we live, and consume, is perhaps

  • the first step in tackling pandemics.

The disease has already claimed more victims than Legionnaires' disease and toxic shock

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Why Do Pandemics Keep Happening?

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