B2 High-Intermediate US 39 Folder Collection
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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 change – means 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 sanitation – that they're interwoven in the way we live, and consume, is perhaps
the first step in tackling pandemics.
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Why Do Pandemics Keep Happening?

39 Folder Collection
Courtney Shih published on February 27, 2020
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