ONE YEAR OF COVID: ARE WE READY FOR THE NEXT PANDEMIC?

  25 March 2021

A major review of the UK’s foreign policy(link is external) published last week says that another pandemic remains a “realistic possibility” before 2030. It warns that population growth coupled with the loss of natural habitat will continue to increase interaction between humans and animals and create the conditions for diseases to jump from one species to another. As a community of people working in the field of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), we know all too well of the deep interconnections that exist between animal and human health(link is external) and well-being. 

Worryingly, however, the report also anticipates that, based on current trends, global deaths related to AMR will rise from 700,000 to 20 million per year by 2050. This is a sobering analysis of what might be ahead of us but – rather than catapult us into panic or despair – we really must take stock of this analysis and ramp up the measures that enable us to be better prepared for the next public health emergency. 

AMR may not ever rampage across the world at the scale and speed that Covid-19 did but we are already in crisis. In too many parts of the world, antibiotics of “last resort” are losing touch with that very title and peoples’ lives – and those of their families and loved ones – are being transformed. Dame Sally Davies put it perfectly when she used the metaphor(link is external): “Covid’s a lobster dropped into boiling water, making a lot of noise as it expires, whereas AMR is a lobster put into cold water, heating up slowly, not making any noise.” 

Further reading: Longitude Prize
Author(s): Ruth Neale
Effective Surveillance  
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