Rivers and George’s proposal was read by the right people. Five days after the inauguration of President Joe Biden, the new administration engaged to create a National Center for Epidemic Prevention and Epidemic Analysis. In March, they designated $ 500 million in funding for it as part of the U.S. Rescue Plan Act.
Here’s where the U.S. agency comes in and the international effort hopefully queues up: Its successes will depend on data: more abundant data, more granular data, only no longer. By the middle of the 20th century, the inaccuracy of weather forecasts was the culmination of late night jokes. What has made it a reliable effort has been the deployment of data collection devices – satellites, Doppler radar, meteorological balloons, automated surface observation systems – and using the transforming power of the supercomputer and graphics systems to understand and represent the results.
Data collection devices that could help us scan the horizon for pandemics already exist. (You can read this on one.) Mobility data, purchase records, search terms, and words you use in tweets – all represent information that can feed prediction tools. Public health also does a good job of accessing this data, collecting and analyzing it. The canals to reach them have been dug even in rich countries. In the Global South, the problem is bad.
“There’s so much heterogeneity in the underlying capabilities of various countries and locations,” says Rivers. Getting this data to help a country ring alarm bells, even less contributing to the global forecast, “could also be a matter of moving from paper signaling to digital signaling,” he adds. “It’s hard to see how you can jump to the end and have an advanced radar system without first looking at those basic pieces, when each of those pieces in any jurisdiction is a big deal.”
Take test results, for example. You will want to enter the results of any diagnostic tests done during health visits, to see if a wave of respiratory infections is caused by a common virus or a new strain. But so many people lack access to health care that diagnostic data may have limited predictive power. On the other hand, most people adopt wastewater systems — where they exist — and wastewater sampling. can detect pathogens without interfering with individual privacy or forcing the construction of interoperable registration systems.
Animal data it’s another gap. There are already structures in place to report cases of human disease and wild and animal diseases, but they are separate, managed by various United Nations agencies. Reports in one system will not sound a wake-up call in another – an oversight, since so many emerging diseases are zoonotic, starting with animals and then jumping into humans.
This revelation two weeks ago that a coronavirus carried by cats and dogs had been found in old throat swabs by people proves the point. It came to light late, because of an academic project. These findings were not reported through a notification system, and there is no indication that anyone has installed anything new to track the virus. “Now we don’t have systems that could go and keep an eye on canine coronaviruses,” Carlson says. “We know it’s a virus that can recombine in a way that can be transmitted to humans.” We have seen it does, in a really limited way. We know it is a potential threat to health security. But there is no global surveillance. ”
The final question that a pandemic radar will face is this: What benefit? The colonialist model of resource extraction – taking goods from the Global South, using them to profit from the Global North – has tripled disease surveillance before. In 2007, amid global concern over the spread of H5N1 avian influenza in Indonesia signed sending of viruses collected at its borders into the WHO influenza surveillance network who I will reprimand the nation, saying it was in danger to the world. The government of Indonesia – which, at the time, had more deaths from bird flu than any other country –he answers that this was his only possible lever against iniquity. If rich countries used Indonesian viruses to develop a vaccine against bird flu, Indonesia wanted guaranteed, inexpensive access – so they wouldn’t have to compete to buy a product that doesn’t exist without their help.