经济学人:流行病 预防不足

时间:2016-03-28 11:07:02  / 编辑:Abby



  An ounce of prevention


  Crises of infectious diseases are becoming morecommon. The world should be better prepared


  ONE of the sobering lessons of the Ebola crisis was how ill-prepared the world was for such adeadly disease. It is terrifying to reflect on how the virus's advance was halted in the teemingcity of Lagos thanks only to the heroism of a single doctor and because the place justhappened to have the expertise needed to trace all of the first victim's contacts. Today theworld is facing a worrying outbreak of Zika virus, adding to a growing list of diseases thatincludes SARS, MERS and bird flu.





  This is the new normal. New infectious diseases are becoming more common. With more peopleon the planet, more roads and flights connecting everyone, and greater contact betweenhumans and animals, this is only to be expected. Over half of the 1,400 known humanpathogens have their origins in animals such as pigs, bats, chickens and other birds.


  Pandemics and pandemonium


  When a new outbreak occurs, fear spreads even more rapidly than the virus. Politiciansrespond, rationally or not, with travel bans, quarantines or trade blocks. Airlines ground flights.Travellers cancel trips. Ebola has infected almost 30,000 people, killed more than 11,000 andcost more than $2 billion in lost output in the three hardest-hit countries. SARS infected 8,000and killed 800; because it hit richer places, it cost more than $40 billion. Predicting these lossesis hard, but a recent report on global health risks puts the expected economic losses frompotential pandemics at around $60 billion a year.


  As the threat grows, so does the case for beefing up defences against disease. America'sNational Academy of Medicine suggests that just $4.5 billion a year (equivalent to about 3% ofwhat rich countries spend on development aid) devoted to preparing for pandemics wouldmake the world a lot safer. The money would strengthen public-health systems, improve co-ordination in an emergency and fund neglected areas of R&D.


  Many of the investments to prepare for pandemics would bring broader benefits, too. Strongerpublic-health systems would help fight such diseases as tuberculosis, which reduces global GDPby $12 billion a year, and malaria, which takes an even bigger toll. But the priority should be toadvance vaccines for diseases that are rare today, but which scientists know could easilybecome pandemics in the future: Lassa fever, say, Crimean Congo haemorrhagic fever orMarburg.


  Better sharing of data would help (see article). More important is funding and a review of whohas liability if firms rush vaccines or drugs to market. The initial development and early-stagetesting of vaccines for the most likely future pandemics would cost roughly $150m each. Drugfirms have little incentive to invest in a vaccine that may never be used. For these firms evenlater-stage testing when a pandemic breaks out is tricky. The drug industry spent $1 billion onEbola and took on liability risk, yet never made a profit. The same companies may not be sowilling next time. To encourage drug firms to play their full part during an emergency,governments need to set out how they will share the burden.


  Since the financial crisis, banks have been required to hold more capital in order to lower therisk of economic contagion. The world spends about $2 trillion annually on defence. Investingin health security is a similar form of insurance, but one with better returns.


  • 姓名:张弼




从业多年来帮助多名学生拿到美国TOP20大学的录取及奖学金。其中不乏Stanford University、University of Pennsylvania、Columbia University、Cornell University、UC-Berkeley、Yale、Caltech等顶尖名校。





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