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Global pandemic on the way? A new report says we’re getting close and we’re unprepared

A new report from the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board says we are unprepared for a global pandemic.

In this Saturday, July 20, 2019 photo, Claude Mabowa Sasi, 21, who had lost his mother, a brother and a sister to Ebola, walks in an Ebola treatment center as he recovers from the disease in Beni, Congo.
In this Saturday, July 20, 2019 photo, Claude Mabowa Sasi, 21, who had lost his mother, a brother and a sister to Ebola, walks in an Ebola treatment center as he recovers from the disease in Beni, Congo.
AP

The world is inching closer to a global pandemic, and it doesn’t seem like we’re prepared to handle it, according to a new report.

The report, which comes from the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board and co-convened by the World Bank and the World Health Organization, warned that the world is not prepared for a possible pandemic, such as the influenza pandemic in 1918 that killed 50 million people, according to CNN.

If such a pandemic happened today, it would kill 80 million people and ruin 5% of the global economy, according to health experts on the panel for the report.

“The world is not prepared,” the report warned. “For too long, we have allowed a cycle of panic and neglect when it comes to pandemics: we ramp up efforts when there is a serious threat, then quickly forget about them when the threat subsides. It is well past time to act.”

Scott Dowell, an expert on outbreak response who heads up vaccine surveillance at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, told FastCompany that it’s not a matter of “if” but “when.”

“There’s widespread agreement that it’s virtually certain we are going to be facing another epidemic, or pandemic,” he told Fast Company. “The question is how soon — it could be many years. It could be next year.”

There have been 1,482 epidemics worldwide from 2011 to 2018, according to the report. Those epidemics included Ebola and severe acute respiratory syndrome.

For example, the West Africa Ebola outbreak led to a loss of $53 billion in economic costs.

The economic costs can lead to huge problems such as “lost jobs, forced displacement, inaccessible healthcare and greater mortality,” according to CNN.

But the report outlined seven steps to take in order to prepare.

The first step is to commit to the International Health Regulations and help travelers receive proper vaccines while traveling.

The second step encourages countries to monitor health problems in their country and preparedness.

The third step asks the government to install “coordinators” who can “conduct simulations — drills, in essence — of what the country must do if a pandemic hits,” according to Fast Company.

“Additional steps call for investing in vaccines, additional hospital infrastructure, and other possible treatments, as well as upping relevant donations to the medical and emergency fields. Lastly, the report calls for the United Nations to get better at emergency response coordination across countries,” according to Fast Company.