OR WAIT null SECS
Lions and tigers and monkeypox, oh my!
Authorities and governing bodies have lost the public’s trust when it comes to pandemic response. I won’t discuss the how or why of that here, suffice to say front line nurses using garbage bags as personal protective gear and a lack of ventilator and intubation equipment (and in some cases oxygen), or diagnostic tests are components. But I hadn’t anticipated saying that the United States has begun releasing a monkeypox vaccine from the Strategic National Stockpile to protect high-risk people.
In 2013 when researching pandemic threats, Peter Daszak, president of the EcoHealth Alliance, collected 1897 samples from flying fox in the wild. He identified 55 viruses in nine viral families. Of these, only five were previously known, including two human bocaviruses, an avian adenovirus, a human/bovine betacoronavirus, and an avian gammacoronavirus. Another 50 were newly discovered. This brought the estimate of viruses in wild flying fox to 58. Extrapolating for all 5486 known mammals, we yield a total of 320,000 viruses which interact with humans—in unknown ways—both good and bad (1). But we have a messy and varied microbial soup beyond mammals and viruses who harbor potential pathogenic virulence. Bacteria, Fungi, Protozoa (causing such things as malaria and amebic dysentery), helminths, and prions all engage and interact with us.
We dodged a bullet with the coronavirus dubbed COVID-19. In early 2017, Graham and McLellan at Vanderbilt worked with Moderna on a plan to combine their precision antigen design with Moderna’s rapid and potent messenger RNA (mRNA) delivery (2). They focused on two virus families: coronaviruses (represented by MERS-CoV) and paramyxoviruses, for which Nipah virus had caused periodic outbreaks in Asia, as the prototype. By early 2020, they had designed the vaccine, and Moderna was ready to manufacture the Nipah mRNA vaccine and take it into a human clinical trial. But on Jan. 6, 2020, word came that Chinese scientists had isolated the virus that had caused a problem in Wuhan. So, they pivoted to create a potential vaccine to test within weeks.
I suggest we create a new foundation to win back the trust the public lost in recent years. What signifies most is that it is independent of the traditional ways of handling pandemics, with strong leadership led by the United States Pharmacopeia, The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering, and the research universities of Vanderbilt, Emory, and perhaps the Karolinska Institute. These are all serious people who perhaps don’t want to lead and game plan pandemic organizing, but who because of that reticence I contend may well be best suited to do so.
1. S.J. Anthony, et al., mBio 4 (5) ASM Journals (Sept. 3, 2013).
2. M. Blanding, “A Dose of Hope,” Research News, Vanderbilt University, May 17, 2021.
Chris Spivey is the Editorial Director of Pharmaceutical Technology.
Vol. 46, No. 6
When referring to this article, please cite it as C. Spivey, “The Next Pandemic,” Pharmaceutical Technology 46 (6) 10 (2022).