Will We Be Ready for the Next Pandemic?

Posted on: March 22nd, 2021 by Kirenaga Partners

The world must move urgently in 2021 to develop strategies and systems for fighting diseases that could be even deadlier than Covid-19

Fast forward to 2023. The Covid-19 pandemic is largely behind us. Most of the world has been vaccinated, though we have to tamp down occasional flare-ups and people sometimes still wear masks. While we mourn the millions who died, we have entered a post-pandemic world in which most things are more or less as they were before Covid-19. Travel and trade are unrestricted; everything from dinner parties and big weddings to stadium concerts and megachurch services are being held again; and economies are booming to keep pace with pent-up demand.

Then, just as suddenly as Covid-19 emerged, disease detectives discover a fresh cluster of a new, pneumonia-like illness. Testing quickly confirms that it isn’t a variant of Covid-19 but a new influenza virus that jumped—somehow, somewhere—from birds to humans. The new virus is as infectious as the one that caused Covid-19 but four times as deadly. And unlike Covid-19, but like the devastating 1918 influenza pandemic, the new virus is particularly deadly to young adults—and, in this case, also to children.

A horrifying influenza pandemic isn’t the only nightmare scenario that could be worse than Covid-19. Think of the hundreds of thousands of cases of tick-borne Lyme disease in the U.S. each year. In other parts of the world, some ticks spread Ebola-like illnesses, and if these infections spread to the U.S., tick-bites could also lead to a disease with the terrifying lethality of Ebola. Or a highly drug-resistant bacterium could spread rapidly. Or a laboratory could develop an untreatable, vaccine-defying strain of a virus or bacterium and—intentionally or by accident—release it into the world.

The world wasn’t ready for Covid-19. Will we be ready for the next, inevitable pandemic?

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