Pandemics

Hopefully technology will one day be able to eliminate potential killers before they start to spread – but until then its necessary to be vigilant to the pandemics that don’t differentiate between those with a plan to live forever and those without.

I’ll add more individual pages – but for now the looming pandemic is Ebola.

What’s the chance of a deadly disease annihilating the world’s population? Some of the key factors are:

  1. ease of transmission – by contact or air
  2. is it infectious before symptons so that public health measures can be used?
  3. how deadly is it? lots of novel flus are no worse than seasonal ones
  4. can it be prevented or treated?

 

Latest News

H7N9 Influenza Could Be The Next Big Flu Pandemic – Science Trends – 20-Oct-2017
H7N9 is an avian flu that was discovered in China in 2013. Since its discovery, there have been multiple waves of infections in humans and in 2016 the infection rate started to increase much more than before. Of the infected, 40% has died.
Researchers from The University of Tokyo found that the virus is spreading not only from poultry to humans but also human to humans, albeit at a slow pace.
This allows influenza to develop more mutations and it could be the key to becoming pandemic.

Can We Stop A Global Pandemic? – Forbes – 19-Oct-2017
Having killed at least 74 people in the last few weeks, the plague ravaging Madagascar has just jumped across the border and off the island.
Making the situation only more critical is the lack of new drugs in development to combat growing antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
It is estimated that at least 700,000 people die worldwide every year from infections that no longer respond to antibiotics.
In a worst-case scenario, AMR could cause 10 million deaths each year by 2050 — more than cancer.

Shortage Could Leave U.S. With Deadly Flu Pandemic – Newsweek – 12-Oct-2017
United States relies on foreign trade for many medical needs. About 30 essential items, these include hospital supplies like IV bags and everyday drugs, are made outside of the U.S.
A pandemic in India or China could keep people home from work, which would impact manufacturing.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy asserts:
“If anything happens to disrupt the supply, we wouldn’t have any of it. We would suddenly see a tremendous amount of collateral damage.”

BBC app to investigate how flu pandemic spreads – BBC News – 27-Sep-2017
The free app will anonymously collect vital data on how far users travel over a 24 hour period.
Users will be asked for information about the number of people they have come into contact with during this time.
This data will be used to simulate the spread of a highly infectious disease to see what might happen when – not if – a real pandemic hits the UK.
The results of the experiment will be revealed in a 90 minute landmark documentary, BBC Pandemic which will air in spring 2018 on BBC.

Bill Gates thinks a pandemic could kill 30 million people – Business Insider – 17-Sep-2017
Bill and Melinda Gates in their recently released “Goalkeepers” report state that they see a pandemic as the greatest immediate threat to humanity on the planet.
They are sure that in upcoming decades fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year.
It’s possible that a major outbreak could be intentionally created as the result of a biological weapon or it can occur by a quirk of nature.

Still Vulnerable 100 Years after Lethal 1918 Flu Pandemic – Scientific American – 15-Sep-2017
The 1918 influenza pandemic: the most devastating infectious disease in history took 50 million to 100 million lifes worldwide. Despite the progress of modern medicine we do not have such vaccines, which would be effective against a 1918-like virus. The three recent influenza pandemics in 1957, 1968 and 2009 remind us that new pandemics are inevitable, and that current seasonal vaccines are unlikely to prevent or significantly control them.

Three Mutations Could Turn Bird Flu Virus Into A Human Pandemic – IFL Science – 26-Jun-17
H7N9 strain has infected over 900 people since 2013.
Small mutations in three amino acids found on the flu virus surface would make it better at binding to human cells.
US safety regulations prohibit introducing these mutations to actual H7N9 viruses.

Bill Gates warns tens of millions could be killed by bio-terrorism – Guardian – 18-Feb-2017
The next epidemic could be a genetically engineered version of the smallpox virus or a deadly strain of the flu.
Epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year.
Reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years.
71% of Britons are more concerned about the spread of infectious diseases than war with other nations.

We are vulnerable to flu epidemic in next decade – BBC – 30-Dec-2016
Bill Gates says the world is a bit vulnerable right now.
Ebola and Zika crises showed the systems for responding to emergencies are still not strong enough.
Dame Sally Davies (Chief Medical Officer for England): It would take at least six months from the start of a flu pandemic to get an effective vaccine.

First flu affects lifetime risk – BBC – 11-Nov-2016
Research finds there are only two types of hemagglutinin protein on surface of influenza A virus.
Chances of falling ill from a new strain of flu are at least partly determined by the first strain they ever encountered.
75% protection rate against severe disease if patient exposed to a virus with the same protein motif when they were a child.
The first time a person’s immune system encounters a flu virus, it makes antibodies targeting hemagglutinin .
Could explain why some flu outbreaks cause more deaths and serious illnesses in younger people.

UK is ‘vulnerable’ to next Ebola outbreak – BBC News – 25-Jan-2016
Science and Technology Committee says gaping hole in the country’s ability to manufacture vaccines.
UK lacks the capability to vaccinate UK citizens in an emergency.
Government’s response to Ebola outbreak was “undermined by systematic delay”.
Prof Adrian Hill calls it a “national security issue”.

Dog infects four humans with the plague, may involve human-to-human transmission – The Independent – 1-May-15
8 cases of the plague in humans each year on average but is currently treatable with antibiotics.

‘Mystery disease’ kills 18 in Nigeria – BBC News – 18-Apr-15

India swine flu outbreak ‘kills 75’ – BBC News – 28-Jan-15
The H1N1 virus, which causes swine flu, first appeared in Mexico in 2009 and rapidly spread around the world.

Studying Epidemics in Virtual Worlds – Bloomberg – 6-May-2009
1.3 million virtual residents represented by digital characters ran through 15 scenarios, with a variety of government reactions. Tracks the spread of diseases in virtual worlds to help predict what will happen in the real world.

Factors that make an infectious disease outbreak controllable – Imperial College – 27-Feb-2004
Two  simple public health measures in controlling outbreaks are isolating symptomatic individuals and tracing/quarantining their contacts.

 

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