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Medical staff and nurses gather during a protest at La Paz hospital in Madrid, Spain Medical staff and nurses gather during a protest at La Paz hospital in Madrid, Spain, Oct. 5, 2020 (AP photo by Manu Fernandez).

The Time to Start Preparing for the Next Pandemic Is Now

Monday, Oct. 12, 2020

The White House coronavirus cluster underscores a reality that no amount of happy talk can overcome. After more than nine months, 36 million cases and more than 1 million deaths worldwide, the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging. The infection rate in the United States and Europe is increasing, and a vaccine will not be widely available until well into 2021.

It is not too early, however, to begin preparing for the next pandemic—and there will be a next one. Although it has become commonplace to describe COVID-19 as a once-in-a-century event, another pandemic could in fact be imminent. More than 40 new dangerous pathogens have emerged since 1970, most jumping from animal to human hosts, and the pace of their appearance is increasing, as humans enter new ecosystems and encounter once-isolated species. As the Nobel Laureate Joshua Lederberg warned back in 1988, “The microbe that felled one child in a distant continent yesterday can reach yours today and seed a global pandemic tomorrow.” ...

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