The next pandemic will be worse than the coronavirus, Gikas Majorkinis, associate professor of hygiene and epidemiology, clinical virologist, said in an interview with FM Agency radio station on the occasion of the recent launch of his book “Virus Chronicle”.
Gikas Majorkinis, at the same time, links a future pandemic to bird flu and points out that, based on available data, it seems that the bird flu virus has spread more than in other years. “They have also isolated the virus from many animals that are not birds, that is, also from mammals. And there’s extensive discussion in the scientific community about whether this sounds familiar, whether it has points of adaptation in humans, and whether it can start to spread to humans as well. So far the human cases are sporadic, it has not shown serious signs that it can be transmitted from human to human, but it certainly seems to be one more click in humans this year than in previous years, ”he says.
“Through my book I try to help people understand what we’ve been through, because I think people haven’t fully understood that this is something that’s been going on for millions of years. It will continue to happen and we need to be prepared for the next pandemic, which could be two seconds from now or 50 years from now,” says Gikas Majorkinis.
Regarding the endemicity of the virus, which he had actually predicted a year earlier, through the same transmission, and just a few days ago the World Health Organization raised the highest level of health alert, Mr. Majorkinis states: ” This endemicity has a strong imprint, which we also face in hospitals, and which is borne mainly by vulnerable groups, who continue to be exposed to the virus.What happened is that the virus arrived and added an additional burden to the health system and we will have to find a way to deal with it in the coming decades.”
The pressure on health systems from subsequent pandemics is unpredictable
As the professor writes in his book, “the possible arrival of new viruses and new pandemics will put increasing pressure on health systems. The health and financial burden of viral infections will increase in the coming years. We will experience waves of new viral pandemics, as has been happening on the planet for millions of years. There is no reason to believe that this will stop. On the contrary, there is a possibility that its frequency will increase. Those that do manage to establish themselves permanently in the human population will add to existing viral infections and continue to plague vulnerable and susceptible people, increasing steadily as the population ages. Technology will help us better deal with their impacts, but sometimes the pressure they will cause will be significant or dramatic, and sometimes unpredictable.”
Invest in specialized personnel
And for this very reason, explains Majorkinis, “we must invest both in technology and in human resources, specialized in viral infections, respiratory diseases and intensive care, so that we can effectively face this burden in the long term and the possible future ones.” pandemics This investment, however, requires a lot of time. It takes more than 11-12 years for each person to specialize, so the gaps that arise are impossible to fill in a short period of time or in urgent circumstances. After all, we saw it in this pandemic, when in China they built a hospital in ten days and transferred personnel from other places to treat it. You don’t build staff in ten days. If there is no long-term plan, not only to educate people, but also to motivate them to go in that direction, then we are in for some surprises. If we don’t make this investment, we will face very great difficulties in the next hundred years.”
There are viruses that killed 60 to 70% of the population
Q: Based on the historical evidence of pandemics that you cite in your book, how serious do you consider the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic to be? The question reasonably arises.
Answer: “Of the pandemics that we have seen historically, this one in particular was mild. Probably if we were not in this era where there are a large percentage of vulnerable people, it would also pass slowly. The pandemics that have appeared on the planet are very more deadly. That is, there are viruses that caused epidemics in which 60% to 70% of the population died, like in South America in the 16th and 17th centuries. And we don’t know what viruses they are. This is a terribly gray and terrifying part of virology, which personally makes me feel a bit strange, because although, for example, we knew the profile of smallpox (ss: what virus causes it and how it is transmitted) and that there is a vaccine, for these viruses we did not even know what profile they had and there is no vaccine. And if the bad scenario happens and they come back, we don’t know how easily they will be solved.”
Epidemics are a constant part of the ecosystem
Q: So far, history has taught us that virus outbreaks are constant, they will happen again and again. The question is not whether we will see another pandemic. The question is when, how often and with what consequences you write in your book. Has the risk of mega-pandemics disappeared? Do we know what we can do to avoid them?
Answer: “No, the risk of mega-pandemics, that is, pandemics that can kill more than 10% of infected cases, has not disappeared. And it has not gone away because we cannot control which pathogen will jump from animals to humans at I am afraid that because the planet is very dense and there is a lot of communication, if a pandemic starts in a small town in Africa or China, it could be a problem the next day in Canada. And that will be difficult to control, so like I said we will have to invest strategically and in the long term to face the next pandemic. I think it will be worse, because the profile of the current one was relatively light compared to the other pandemics that the planet has gone through and I fear that it will catch us out of nowhere. For example , one can spread very easily. hemorrhagic fever, which would create huge problems, which are also difficult to deal with. There is no way to avoid epidemics. It is a perpetual game of the ecosystem. Viruses are part of the genome of animals and humans and it has always been that way, it will not stop and we have no way to stop them. The only thing we can do is control the effects and better deal with the acute phase.”