r/Health – Future infectious diseases: Recent history shows we can never again be complacent about pathogens

Infectious diseases are almost always what we call One Health problems. The term refers to the intimate link between human and animal health, agriculture and the environment.

Microbes that cause disease often move easily between reservoirs in the environment, animals and people. Human encroachment into previously remote regions continues at an alarming rate, exposing us to previously isolated viruses, bacteria and parasites.

Climate change is creating new vectors to spread these diseases, such as ticks and mosquitoes migrating into newly warmed environments.

As climate change continues and the demand for nutrition grows, strains on the environment will generate new infection challenges. Seeing three unique, novel coronaviruses (SARS, MERS and SARS-CoV-2) jump from environmental reservoirs into humans in the space of a two decades should have spurred us to be vigilant, alert and prepared, yet we still aren’t ready enough.

Before the pandemic, our increased lifespans and ability to neutralize some infections with preventions and treatments had lulled us into complacency regarding the infectious diseases we had once rightly feared.

With such easily accessible global travel and a standard of living that relies on international trade, turning back the clock is impossible.

We must anticipate and prepare for more outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics.

We need to establish robust research networks and be able to mobilize them quickly when new problems emerge.

We need to invest in biomedical and biomanufacturing infrastructure that can respond urgently to these challenges enabling us to rapidly produce new vaccines and drugs.


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