Should we be ready with Respirator Gas Masks for the next pandemic?
Are you ready for the next pandemic? When no cloth face mask will work. No N95 Respirator will work. No social distancing will work. No physical distancing will work. No lockdown will work. No lockup will work.
Since 2000, we are under constant threat of several pandemic outbreaks.
In 2002-2004, about 774 people died worldwide by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
The flu pandemic, aka the Swine Flu or H1N1/09 virus, took 151,700 to 575,400 lives worldwide during 2009-2010.
Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) broke out in 2012 has taken the lives of around 862 people.
Ebola virus epidemic during the 2013-2016 and Zika virus epidemic during 2015-2016 also claimed considerable human lives.
As of today, Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) has claimed 97,000 lives so far. Approximately 1.61 million cases have been reported in 210 countries and territories and 346,000 people have recovered.
As you might know that all the above viruses were spread by humans to humans during close contact or by small droplets produced when those infected coughs, sneeze or talk.
Breathing also produces these droplets. But, they fall to the ground or surfaces and are not spread through the air over large distances.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO):
Airborne transmission is different from droplet transmission as it refers to the presence of microbes within droplet nuclei, which are generally considered to be particles <5μm in diameter, can remain in the air for long periods of time and be transmitted to others over distances greater than 1 m.
To date, some scientific publications provide initial evidence on whether the COVID-19 virus can be detected in the air and thus, some news outlets have suggested that there has been airborne transmission. These initial findings need to be interpreted carefully.
Also, Daniel Markus in his article ‘Is the coronavirus airborne? It is complicated’ has said that “Second, the evidence needed to declare the coronavirus officially “airborne” could take years to gather, while possibly endangering people. After a large choir in Washington rehearsed together, 45 of the 60 members got sick, even though nobody was symptomatic at the time.”
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates in his TED talk in March 2015 citing lessons learned from the 2014 Ebola virus said that the US and other countries were not prepared for the future pandemic that was going to hit them.
“If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Gates said. “Not missiles, but microbes.”
“The failure to prepare could allow the next epidemic to be dramatically more devastating than Ebola,” he said. A virus “like the Spanish flu of 1918,” Gates added, “would spread throughout the world very, very quickly. And you can see over 30 million people died from that epidemic. So this is a serious problem. We should be concerned.”
You will agree that we cannot deny the possibility of a quick virus spread through the air in the next pandemic or the next to that.
It is currently impossible to predict the emergence of a future pandemic other than to suspect that one will occur or to predict when or where a future pandemic will occur.
Thus, monitoring current and identifiable risks, pandemic prevention strategies must be based on expecting the unexpected and being capable to react accordingly.
Besides enhanced surveillance, it will be important to expand research on vaccines, accelerated development of new classes of antiviral drugs, and improved diagnostics.
These efforts will be of benefit in the control of viruses and will also help to preemptively prepare for the next pandemic.
Don’t you think we should be ready for the next pandemic before it becomes disastrous for us? What are your views?