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Prepare for more pandemics in the future, experts warn

The world needs to prepare for more pandemics, global health experts warned this week, warning that Covid-19 may have subsided but it will return.

They were speaking at the recent launch of the book Standing Up for Science: A Voice of Reason – authored by renowned infectious diseases epidemiologist Proferssor Salim Abdool Karim, reports TimesLIVE.

Attending the Durban event were leading international scientists, including Professor Cate Hankins of Canada’s McGill University; Professor Pete Piot, EU chief adviser on epidemics; Professor Jeremy Farrar, chief scientist at the WHO, and ambassador John Nkengasong, US global Aids co-ordinator and special representative for health diplomacy.

Karim, director of the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa) in Durban, spoke about the lessons learnt from dealing with the pandemic, which he has detailed in the book.

“Those of you who thought there isn’t going to be another pandemic, bad news. There is going to be another one, it’s just a matter of time,” he warned.

“We are in the midst of a cholera epidemic – in South Africa, Malawi and Haiti – with South Africa having had 43 deaths, and we must take the lessons from measles, HIV, TB and Covid-19. We have to be prepared to tackle the next set of pandemics.”

Farrar described Karim’s book as “remarkable”, adding: “Covid is not going away, this is not a temporary human infection. It’s with us forever . . . we don’t yet have vaccines that block transmission and until we have those, we can’t rest and say Covid is behind us. It will return in some form or another.”

Peter Piot, EU chief adviser on epidemics, said: “There is no going back to normal, it’s going forward to a new normal. There will be other pandemics.”

Karim became the voice of reason for millions of South Africans when he headed the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee (MAC), and in the book, touched on the challenges of heading the MAC.

“In one section I look at what it takes to get a group of people together – scientists who are hard to herd in the first place – and to come up with decisions in the face of complex science and often where views differed markedly.

“Throughout my entire year on the MAC we did not reach a decision in any one instance where we could not come to an agreement about what our advice should be.”


TimesLIVE article – Covid is not behind us, warn scientific experts as Prof Salim Abdool Karim launches new book (Restricted access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Standing Up for Science: A Voice of Reason


Vaccines still vital as COVID-19 changes – Abdool Karim


Prof Abdool Karim warns on dangers of fast-spreading variants




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