New Study: World’s Pandemic Plan Is ‘Underdeveloped’

If a pandemic were to break out, health officials say there would be near-total failure to contain it. New research concludes the world’s plan to respond to a global catastrophe “is inadequate and needs urgent reform.”

The new study finds that just six countries have adequate plans for treating the vast majority of patients should the worst come to pass. The situation is worse for infants and newborns.

About 10 percent of the world’s population is believed to be at risk of a deadly, infectious disease should a virus hit the world unprepared. For 1 in 6 people with a disease, “the person and the illness are too late to be treated.”

“We should not have to wait for a crisis to consider how best to respond,” said Sara Davis, research director for FAPRI, an Oxford-based coalition of research institutes working on pandemic planning. “This requires policy makers, health and safety officers, the private sector, academics and civil society to have an advanced understanding of complex pandemic scenarios and to anticipate and plan around those scenarios.”

FAPRI, a collection of research institutes and charities in England, undertook the study. It found the challenge is enormous.

If the world were to witness a severe outbreak of human-to-human transmission of a new virus, disease experts say approximately 78 percent of those infected would die by the time they received the first treatment. That means a second-generation “Big Pharma” are required to initiate treatment immediately.

During the last pandemic, in 1918, authorities in Britain had little more than 2 hours to respond to a second-generation pandemic outbreak, which they called the Black Death, according to the study.

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