that’s why we will have new ones in the future


Each month, the World Health Organization receives 7,000 reports of potential new epidemics that are occurring somewhere on the planet. For 300 of these reports, a file is started, and 30 files are then investigated with the opening of a real investigation. It’s a job that public opinion gets to know nothing about, until one of these latent threats to collective health turns into real danger and the WHO issues an alarm.

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Covid, French study: “Virus does not survive in the sea”. Mollusc analysis

Fortunately, this does not happen every day, but all scholars report that in recent decades epidemics have arisen and spread more frequently than in the past. In twenty years, the viral diseases that caused a global alarm have been just under a dozen: among others, Sars, Mers, H1N1 flu, Ebola, Zyka, the Nipah virus, yellow fever, fever of Lassa, and finally the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus that has upset the balance of world society. Several studies have predicted that in the next few years the number of aggressive viruses capable of traveling the Earth will be even greater, so let’s get ready: Covid-19 will be defeated, we hope soon, but sooner or later some of its colleagues will come to replace it and humanity. all that remains is to equip yourself with all the tools at its disposal to react quickly to the first reports.Coronavirus, the epidemic’s puzzle: because some countries are more affected than others

But what does the multiplication of epidemics depend on? It should be made clear first of all that if today we get sick more frequently, it is not because the viruses have increased, that there have always been. The universe of viral particles is a boundless and largely unknown space, it has been estimated that in the world there are one million and 700 thousand viruses not identified by scientists but capable of affecting man. This population of invisible creatures lives by transferring from one animal to another, and sometimes some of these tiny parasites manage to reach the human body. It is the mechanism known as “spillover”, or “zoonosis”, the transfer of a disease from animal to man, concept now universally known and told by the scientific popularizer David Quammen in the book entitled, in fact, “Spillover”. Just in the greater ease with which these leaps of species now succeed, one of the causes of theincreasing epidemics in the world. The main accelerator of zoonoses would be – say the researchers – deforestation: in the countries of Africa and Asia where local populations cut trees to gain arable land or buildable, many animals suddenly find themselves in contact with man or his farms, which favors the exchange of microorganisms from one species to another. The classic example is that of Nipah, a virus that came to us from the bats of Malaysia left without trees who went to eat the same fruits that the pigs of the farms fed on. And more or less the same happened in Central Africa with Ebola.

Second wave in autumn: “Covid will stay between us”

In addition to the increase in zoonoses, another epidemic accelerator typical of modernity is added: ease of movement thanks to globalized transport. In ancient society a microbe traveled very slowly because human movements were slow. In the fourteenth century the plague took a year to pass from southern Italy to Switzerland, and then another year to reach the Northern Europe and Great Britain; a twenty-first century man, on the other hand, can leave from a remote village in south-eastern China and in one day he can arrive in a European or American metropolis, carrying an exceptional load of bacteria and virions who thus find themselves catapulted to the other side of the planet in just 24 hours. And here is the third factor that encourages the spread of epidemics: today’s men live much closer to each other, few live isolated in country houses, many flock to the big cities, with a very high number of daily physical contacts. More contacts means more particle transmissions, more RNA exchanges, more mutations. Travel speed and community life are, of course, two beautiful aspects of modernity that it would not make sense to give up, but at the same time they are two allies of viruses, and humanity must take this into account.

Coronavirus, the study: herd immunity does not work: half the workforce would be sick

Progress is involuntarily helping viral diseases, but fortunately it also offers us the tools to nip them in the bud. Science and technology allow to quickly identify the emergence of a new threat, to trace the presence of viruses, to predict their possible expansion by developing mathematical models and computer simulations, to block their spread with immediate containment measures, to create in relatively short time therapies and vaccines. But to do all this, the health authorities of the individual countries should organize themselves with adequate structures, mobilizing specialized personnel, and above all setting up a system of international collaboration much more efficient than what has been seen so far with the emergence of the coronavirus.

Last update: 20:26


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