Infectious Diseases Could Kill 30 Million In ‘Less Than A Year’

Credit: PA

The Global Health Security Agenda was formed in 2014 by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention following the outbreak of the Ebola virus, which killed over 11,000 people in West Africa.

The project currently operates in 49 countries, however, according to the Wall Street Journal, funding cuts will mean that it is scaled back and will stop working in 39 countries by autumn.

Naturally, this is bad news for the countries which will now lose out on the scheme, which is reported to include China, Haiti and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but it’s also bad news for pretty much everyone, because diseases don’t concern themselves with border control and once something is out there, keeping it under control can prove almost impossible.

Writing an opinion piece for Business Insider in 2017, billionaire Bill Gates had some pretty worrying things to say about the future of the human race.

“Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year,” he wrote.

“And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10-15 years.”

Speaking to Business Insider, biodefense expert George Poste said: “We are coming up on the centenary of the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

“We’ve been fortunately spared anything on that scale for the past 100 years, but it is inevitable that a pandemic strain of equal virulence will emerge.”

More than 200 health organisations come together to express their concerns over the cuts to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.

In part, it reads: “Pulling out now from countries like Pakistan and Democratic Republic of the Congo – one of the world’s main hot spots for emerging infectious diseases – risks leaving the world unprepared for the next outbreak.

“Now is not the time to step back.

“The ongoing danger that biological threats pose to American health, economic, and national security interests demands dedicated and steady funding for global health security.”

Gates also had some slightly more cheery news, writing: “The good news is that with advances in biotechnology, new vaccines and drugs can help prevent epidemics from spreading out of control.

“And, most of the things we need to do to protect against a naturally occurring pandemic are the same things we must prepare for an intentional biological attack.”

However, without proper funding it’s unclear how these advances could get to those who need them most.

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