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Climate change could make pandemics more common, study warns

By Chukwuma Muanya
14 September 2022   |   4:05 am
A recent study published, yesterday, in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has warned that climate change could make pandemics more common, and the likelihood of an extreme infectious disease epidemic, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, could triple in the coming decades.

(Photo by Bryan R. Smith / AFP)

‘African countries don’t have monkeypox vaccines, treatments, tests’
A recent study published, yesterday, in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has warned that climate change could make pandemics more common, and the likelihood of an extreme infectious disease epidemic, similar to the COVID-19 pandemic, could triple in the coming decades.

It noted that the chance of people seeing a pandemic, like COVID-19, during their lifetime is about 38 per cent, and could double in the years to come.

Dr. William Pan, one of the study authors and an associate professor of global environmental health at Duke University, told ABC News that the possibility of another pandemic is “going to probably increase because of all of the environmental changes that are occurring.”

Pan and colleagues looked at data from the past 400 years to estimate the chance of extreme epidemics each year.

They looked at death rates, the length of previous epidemics, and the rate of new infectious diseases.

Pan said: “As you make that interface between humans and the natural world smaller, we just come in more contact with those things. Climate enhances the ability for viruses to infect us more easily.”

MEANWHILE, Nigeria is on high alert over possible re-emergence of Wild Polio Virus in the country.

This came as Governor Kathy Hochul, State of New York, last week, declared a state disaster emergency after poliovirus was detected in another county.

The order allows Emergency Medical Service (EMS) workers, midwives, and pharmacists to administer vaccine and permits doctors and nurses to issue standing orders for polio vaccines.

New York State Health Commissioner, Dr. Mary T. Bassett, said in a statement: “On polio, we simply cannot roll the dice. If you or your children are unvaccinated or not up to date with vaccinations, the risk of paralytic disease is real. I urge New Yorkers to not accept any risk at all.”

ALSO, there are concerns that the ongoing monkeypox pandemic could become more fatal as vaccines, treatments and tests are unavailable in much of the world, especially Africa.

A report published yesterday by The New York Times showed high-income countries snapped up jabs when the disease hit them, leaving none for countries that have battled the virus for years.

The Guardian investigation, which was confirmed by the report, showed there are no doses of monkeypox vaccines purchased or ordered for African countries till date.

Sources at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) told The Guardian that the country does not have any dose of monkeypox or smallpox vaccines.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), Brazil, which has close to 10 per cent of global monkeypox cases, currently has no vaccine or treatment either. Nor do the countries in West and Central Africa that have struggled with monkeypox outbreaks for decades.

The scramble for monkeypox vaccines and treatments has been centered in the United States and Europe, where supplies of shots have stretched thin or nearly run out. But more than 100 countries are now reporting monkeypox cases, and a vast majority of those have had no vaccine or treatments at all.

They have been shut out by the prohibitive cost and by wealthy nations who bought up most of the available doses.

The United States already controls most of the vaccine, which was originally developed for smallpox, as part of its bioweapons strategy after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Some public health groups are also criticising the WHO for not doing more to ensure swift movement on equitable access to tests, treatments and vaccines, after it declared monkeypox a public health emergency of international concern on July 23.

They say the issues echo those seen with COVID-19, but without any of the mechanisms that were developed to try to right the balance during the coronavirus pandemic.

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