LOOKING BEYOND COVID-19: What lies ahead?

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Climate change has escalated highly in the past few years and researchers have estimated a 2% risk of COVID-19 like pandemic anytime in the near future. For most of us the COVID-19 pandemic makes it feel like nothing will ever be the same again. The emergence of COVID-19 started back in 2020, it has been nearly three years but the scientists were not surprised, they have been predicting a pandemic for years. Despite the continuous evolving of medical researches and scientific advances the risk of such pandemics and diseases in the coming years has only increased. The proliferation of these outbreaks is so massive that it can spread from one section of the world to another in a span of mere hours.

Some of the reasons behind the spread of such diseases is, Novel viruses, diseases that are not known to infect humans, found in animals or other life forms. Zoonotic diseases increased human-animals contact, causing infections that jump from animals to humans. Antimicrobial Resistance which is caused by misuse or excessive use of anti-biotics that leads to (AMR) Antimicrobial Resistance, making it harder to treat infections. Climate change plays a crucial role in spread of such diseases, The World Health Organization (WHO) has also estimated that diseases like malaria and dengue fever will

kill quarter of a million people between 2030-2050 due to climate change. Global travel is a sizeable part of speedy spread of diseases, especially through air travel that makes it quite easy for the disease to cross borders.

The last four decades have faced the most viral and deadly pandemics. That included, the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in 1981, an estimate of 34.3 million people worldwide, were living with HIV and AIDS by the end of the 20th century, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in 2002 was lethal affecting about 8090 people and took life of 774 by the end of February 2003. Influenza A H1N1virus subtype in 2009 impacted over 214 countries and was capable of causing the death of over 18,449 people. Ebola Virus in 2013 has been one of the deadliest and far-reaching of its kind in the history that caused a Public Health menace leading to a social and economic jolt. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) 2019-present is known as a massive global public-health emergency in the history, shortly after it’s detection the WHO declared a global pandemic, it is said to have infected 68.4 million people around the world, 45 million recovered and 1.5 million gave in.

“Without equity, we cannot end COVID-19, HIV or any other pandemic”, wrote Peter Sands, from the Global Fund.

It is conceivable that the next pandemic could be caused by a zoonotic disease, especially from bats, due to bats harboring a vast proportion of zoonotic viruses among mammals, it can also be caused by zoonotic diseases such as yellow fever or chikungunya. Influenza H1N1 also has pandemic potential due to its evolving nature, it can undergo genetic changes through antigenic drift (minor changes) or antigenic shift (major changes), any change in its epidemiology may cause emergence of new tension in its preexistent immunity and may cause a pandemic at any time.

Recent study has found that the odds of a COVID like pandemic with a similar impression is 2% in any year, which means that the likelihood of one undergoing the same pandemic as COVID-19 once in their lifespan is about 38%. Public Health measures such as preparedness, early detection of these viruses and timely isolation of such cases is essential to prevent future pandemics., could the next pandemic be caused by a close relative of human endemic virus?