Pandemics: A Global Threat

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Pandemics pose an immense threat to global social and economic security. The SARS epidemic of 2003 shocked the world. Spreading from mainland China to all corners of the globe in a matter of weeks, SARS demonstrated how infectious viral diseases are truly an international problem. The epidemic cost the world an estimated US$300 billion and served as a forewarning of the disastrous effects a more serious pandemic could cause.

Most experts agree that it is a question of when, not if, the next pandemic will occur.

Although it is impossible to predict the severity of the next pandemic, estimates range from 2 million to over 300 million deaths worldwide. The economic effects of pandemics are equally devastating: borders will close, trade and tourism will grind to a halt, and just-in-time supply chains will be severely disrupted.

As pandemics are not isolated events—they span the globe and can last for months—acute shortages of even the most basic goods could occur. A pandemic would also place enormous strain on healthcare systems, overloading hospitals and healthcare professionals in even the most developed countries.

With weaker health systems and denser populations, the developing world will be a critical front in the battle to contain the next pandemic. As such, it is essential that solutions are available and accessible to all, both as prophylaxes and as therapies to stem massive mortality.