The next pandemic will be worse than the coronavirus, noted associate professor of hygiene and epidemiology, clinical virologist Gikas Majorkinis, in an interview with radio station FM Agency on the occasion of the recent release of his book “Chronicle of viruses”.
Gikas Majorkinis, at the same time, links a future pandemic to bird flu and notes that from the 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 mammals. And there is an extensive discussion in the scientific community as to whether that tells us anything, if not. there are adaptation points in humans and if it can start to spread to humans as well so far the cases in humans are sporadic he has not shown any serious signs of transmission man-to-man, but it certainly looks like there’s been one more click in the man-to-man 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 it’s something that’s been going on for millions of years. It will continue to happen and we have to be ready for the next pandemic, which could be in two seconds or 50 years,” says Gikas Majorkinis.
Regarding the endemicity of the virus, which he had in fact predicted a year earlier, through the same program, and which the World Health Organization raised just a few days ago the highest level of health alert , Mr. Majorkinis says: “This endemicity has a heavy footprint, which we also face in hospitals, and which is mainly borne by vulnerable groups, who are still exposed to the virus. is that the virus has arrived and has added an additional burden to the healthcare system and we will have to find a way to deal with it, for decades to come.”
The strain 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 create ever greater pressure on health systems. The health and financial burden of viral infections will increase in the years to come. We will experience waves of new viral pandemics, as has happened on the planet for millions of years. There is no reason to believe that it will stop. On the contrary, it is possible that their frequency will increase. Those that manage to establish themselves permanently in the human population will add to already existing viral infections and continue to afflict vulnerable and susceptible people, which will also increase steadily as the population ages.Technology will help us do better. face their impacts, but sometimes the pressure they will cause will be significant to dramatic and sometimes unpredictable.
Invest in specialized personnel
And for this reason, explains Majorkinis, “we need to invest in both technology and human resources, specializing in viral infections, respiratory diseases and intensive care, in order to be able to deal effectively with this burden at long term and any subsequent ones”. pandemics. However, this investment is time-consuming. It takes more than 11-12 years for each person to specialize, and therefore the gaps that arise are impossible to fill in a short time or under urgent circumstances. After all, we saw it in this pandemic, when in China they built a hospital in ten days, and they moved staff from other places to staff it. You don’t build staff in ten days. If there isn’t a long-term plan, not only to educate people, but to motivate them to move in that direction, then we’re going to have surprises. If we don’t make this investment, we will face very great difficulties over the next hundred years.”
There are viruses that have killed 60-70% of the population
Q: Based on the historical evidence of pandemics that you cite in your book, how serious is the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the question reasonably arises.
Answer: “Of the pandemics we have had in the past, this one was mild in form. Probably if we weren’t in this time when there is a large percentage of vulnerable people, it would pass just as slowly. Pandemics that have appeared on the planet are much more deadly, that is to say that there are viruses that have caused epidemics in which 60% to 70% of the population died, as in South America in the 16th and 17th centuries. And we don’t know what viruses they are. It’s a terribly gray and scary part of virology, which personally makes me a little weird, because whereas 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 didn’t even know what profile they had and there is no vaccine. And if the bad scenario happens and that they come back, we don’t know how easily they will be dealt with.”
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 do 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 to say pandemics that can kill more than 10% of infected cases, has not disappeared. And it’s not gone because we can’t control which pathogen will jump from animals to humans next. I’m afraid that since the planet is very dense and there is a lot of communication, if a pandemic strikes in a small village in Africa or China, it could be a problem the next day in Canada . And that will be difficult to control, so as I said, we will have to invest strategically and for 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 other pandemics that the planet has been through and I fear that it will surprise us out of nowhere. For example, it is very easy to spread hemorrhagic fever, which would create enormous problems, which are also difficult to manage. There is no way to avoid epidemics. It is a perpetual game of the ecosystem. Viruses are part of animal and human genomes and always have been, it won’t stop and we have no way to stop them. The only thing we can do is control the effects and better manage the acute phase.”