Europe must prepare for ‘certainty’ of flu pandemic as Covid ‘won’t be last in our lifetimes’ – World News

Maria Van Kerkhove, acting director of the UN pandemic preparedness agency, says there is no doubt that Europe will face another pandemic threat, most likely from the coronavirus. flu.

Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical lead on the coronavirus pandemic, during an interview in 2020(AFP via Getty Images)

European nations must prepare due to the “high risk” of a flu pandemic, according to a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official.

Acting director of pandemic preparedness Dr Maria Van Kerkhove said it was “certain” that a flu threat would sweep the continent “within our lifetime”, adding that Covid-19 would not t was not the last pandemic that Europe had to face. Speaking on the WHO’s Health in Europe podcast, she said the future threat could cause unprecedented carnage.

However, the respected epidemiologist said if the world used the lessons learned during Covid-10, it “did not need to be as bad as it was”. She explained: “For me, the flu is a certainty because it is so widespread. It has infected many different species. We have avian flu and the possibilities of reassortment (genetic changes to a virus that allow it to jump from one species to another). , the risks of an influenza virus pandemic are high.

“That’s why we have a whole system in place to prepare for this. The challenge is will we see another coronavirus pandemic? Given that SARS-CoV-2 caused a pandemic, it’s certainly an opportunity. The question “Will we see an arbovirus pandemic?” The arbovirus class includes infections transmitted by the bite of an insect carrying the infection. She added: “I’m not saying that. to scare people who listen to this, but for us, it’s something we have to prepare for.

“So we have to think outside the box. Really prepare for known threats, but also think outside the box for something different, maybe waterborne or something else. So for me, pandemics, unfortunately, are part of what we will face in our lifetime. I do not believe that this will be the last pandemic that we will face in our lifetime.

Scientists have long assumed that avian flu would be the most likely candidate for triggering a pandemic because of its threat of recombination, when two viruses merge to create a hybrid strain. Others say it could be Disease X – a hypothetical and still unknown pathogen – which comes from bacterial or viral transmission from animals to humans.

It comes as the WHO lamented the failure of world leaders to agree on a global response plan to a future pandemic. After COVID-19 triggered once-unthinkable lockdowns, upended economies and killed millions, leaders at the World Health Organization and around the world pledged to do better in the future. In 2021, member countries asked the United Nations health agency to oversee negotiations to determine how the world could better share scarce resources and prevent future viruses from spreading globally.

On Friday, Roland Driece, co-chair of the WHO deal’s negotiating council, acknowledged that countries were unable to come up with a plan. The WHO had hoped a final draft treaty could be adopted at its annual meeting of health ministers which begins Monday in Geneva. “We are not where we hoped to be when we started this process,” he said, adding that finalizing an international agreement on how to respond to a pandemic was essential “for the good of the world.” ‘humanity”.

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Gn Health

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