Bill Gates-funded Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations (GAVI) is speculating about 11 possible sources of the next pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t the first to devastate the world and it won’t be the last,” declares GAVI on its website. “In a new series, we round up emerging infectious threats that have the potential to erupt into global pandemics.”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a founding partner of GAVI, has pledged approximately $4.1 billion to the organization.
“At the 2020 Global Vaccine Summit, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced $1.6 billion for GAVI’s next 2021-25 strategic period,” GAVI announced. “In addition to this funding, the foundation pledged $150 million in support of GAVI’s COVAX AMC to ensure equitable access to vaccines for AMC-eligible economies.”
The viruses identified by the group include Hantavirus, Rift Valley fever, Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever, Lassa fever, Marburg, Yellow fever, Chikungunya, H5N1 and H7N9 influenza strains, Ebola, Nipah virus and maybe even another coronavirus.
Rift Valley fever is classified as a category A bioterrorism agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pandemic risk from a disease affecting farm animals may seem low, but it has the potential to cause social disruption through devastation of large-scale agricultural economies.
Hantavirus is spread by rodents, which can become infected with the virus but don’t become diseased, according to GAVI. The virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by contact with aerosols from infected saliva, urine or fecal matter of infected rodents.
Development of COVID-19 vaccines may help end the current COVID-19 pandemic, but continuingly high rates of infection in many countries may produce further variants capable of evading vaccine-induced immunity. This could mean people continue to develop COVID-19, claims GAVI.
Crimean-Congo Haemorrhagic Fever is transmitted to people by tick bites or contact with blood or tissues of infected animals during and immediately after slaughter. Domesticated animals like cattle, goats, sheep, hares and ostriches may also carry the virus, GAVI notes. Infected people can transmit it to other people through contact with blood or body fluids or improper sterilization of medical equipment.
Lassa virus is another virus transmitted from rodents to humans. People become infected when they come into contact with infected rat droppings, which is why people living in rural areas in crowded and unsanitary conditions are at highest risk of the virus.
Marburg is one of the deadliest known viruses, GAVI said, noting it kills about 88 percent of infected people. For now, it seems mostly confined to Africa where it is primarily spread by fruit bats and green monkeys. GAVI noted increasing globalization and international travel increase the risk for global spread, especially when the incubation period could be up to three weeks.
Yellow fever is endemic in tropical parts of Africa and Central and South America, but climate change is expanding its territory, according to GAVI. The disease is spread by mosquitos. If infected people travel to other parts of the world, the virus can be spread if the infected person is bitten by a mosquito that then bites another person.
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