A Preparation for the Next Outbreak
A Preparation for the Next Outbreak
  • Lee Hae-been (News Editor)
  • 승인 2020.06.28 16:12
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     Due to COVID-19, which is now prevalent worldwide, the number of patients is rapidly increasing. We are also suffering problems associated with every aspect of society. While so many people are seeking treatment for corona virus, what Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, said on TED Talk in 2015 has gotten everyone’s attention. “If anything kills over 10 million people in the next few decades, it’s most likely to be a highly infectious virus rather than a war,” Bill said. For this reason, we should continue to conduct research and invest on infectious diseases and their treatment.

     Before we start, we need to know exactly what causes an epidemic. It is easy to think that a virus is the only reason for an epidemic, although it can also be caused by bacteria, virus (e.g., coronavirus), and protists. However, we will only focus on bacteria and viruses this time. Substances that kill bacteria and viruses are called antibiotics and antiviral drugs, respectively, and there are vaccines for each which can provide acquired immunity by injecting weakened or killed forms of microbes. The difference is that we use antibiotics for bacteria and vaccines for virus in priority to prevent further infection.

     In order to compare the market share between antibiotics and vaccine to others, it is shown that those are significantly smaller than that of cancers and diabetes. We need to know the reason for their limited proportion. Infectious diseases were problems that mostly occurred in the Third World countries. Paul Stoffels, a chief scientist in the US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson, stated that studies that have been in progress for the Zika virus have been discontinued since the outbreak had decreased. This indicates that because the development process takes too much time, it has become an economic burden for the global pharmaceutical industry. In addition, today’s antibiotics that are usually derived from semisynthetic modifications or natural compounds have fewer side effects. However, the organisms already have a resistant mechanism for these antibiotics, thus indicating that antibiotic resistance is increasing every year. It is reported that the percentage of use of antibiotics other than that of cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones has increased due to the above circumstances. Even the expiration dates are not that long, thus making it difficult to conduct research. What’s worse is that we are not sure whether some vaccines can be effective since the viruses have a high possibility of mutation.

     No one can predict when the next outbreak will be. The World Bank Group estimated that the flu epidemic will lead to a decline in global wealth of about three trillion dollars and millions of deaths. We, including the global pharmaceutical company, must bear in mind that there are so much more advantages to continue researching on infectious diseases, taking into account all the situations. This is the time when we need to shift our attention to investing in resources to fight infections.






Cha Hea-ry [The Department of Bioscience & Informatics, 18, Myongji University]


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