Jakarta – A global team of experts is taking action to prevent viral spillovers and future pandemics, proposing strategies that involve curbing deforestation, improving animal health, addressing wildlife trade, enhancing healthcare, and implementing integrated surveillance for zoonotic viruses.
The Lancet and the Coalition for Preventing Pandemics at the Source (PPATS) in a written statement saif that they have launched The Lancet-Preventing Pandemics at the Source Commission on Prevention of Viral Spillover, an effort to develop a comprehensive plan for stopping the transmission of viruses from animals to humans.
As governments shift their focus away from pandemic preparedness, the Commission addresses the growing threat of animal-to-human diseases. Comprising 28 experts from diverse fields, including epidemiology, microbiology, ecology, and veterinary medicine, the Commission aims to draw global attention to viral spillover prevention and deliver a comprehensive report within two to three years.
Recognising the issue’s complexity, the Commission encourages collaboration across various fields, including health, ecology, and Indigenous knowledge. The Commission’s goals include evaluating drivers of viral spillovers, identifying prevention strategies, and assessing the benefits and trade-offs, with a focus on social, economic, and political challenges.
Sonila Cook, co-founder of the PPATS, stressed the need for proactive measures. She said that the Commission is “focused on preventing disease outbreaks from occurring in the first place, which is far more equitable and cost-effective and brings many other benefits for people and our planet. Through the work of this Commission, we will be better positioned to prevent another crisis instead of merely reacting to it.”
“Many countries struggle to navigate the often-conflicting demands of generating economic development and maintaining an affordable supply of food for growing populations while safeguarding the health of rural populations,” said Latiffah Hassan, Commission Co-chair and a Professor with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at the Universiti Putra Malaysia, adding that “it is these communities who face the greatest risk of emerging pandemic threats. Like every other part of our global society, they have a right to decent healthcare. Preventing spillover protects everyone everywhere.”
Nigel Sizer, Executive Director of PPATS, highlighted the Commission’s role in learning from the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “so many people are behaving as if the COVID-19 pandemic never happened — and in doing so, they fail to apply the lessons from COVID-19.”
The World Bank and World Health Organization estimate the budget for adequate pandemic preparation would cost $41.6 billion annually. In comparison, estimates of first-year impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic reached over US$2 trillion, equivalent to a 3.4% decrease in global GDP. (nsh)
Banner photo: Anna Shvets/Pexels.com