Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Eradicating Diseases?

Nature Medicine
has an interesting News feature on disease eradication.  "Wars against disease" must have realistic expectations concerning what constitutes "victory". There are approximately 1,400 species of human pathogens. Plus there are chronic diseases which cause about 71% of all deaths worldwide. Plus there are limited budgets, limited compliance with public health guidelines, etc. etc.

A sample from the story:

...Most scientists have by now conceded that SARS-CoV-2 is here to stay. But as China still hangs on to a ‘zero-COVID’ policy that others abandoned long ago, it is keeping the long-standing debate alive.

“It is not possible to eliminate SARS-CoV-2,” insists Marcel Tanner, president of the Swiss Academy of Sciences and Director Emeritus of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, who led Switzerland’s now-dissolved COVID-19 Science Task Force. “It’s no longer the time to think of zero COVID, even if you sit on an island.”

....Smallpox is the only human disease to have ever been eradicated, and dominance over a virus that killed 300 million people worldwide in the twentieth century continues to inspire campaigns to vanquish dangerous pathogens. Yet the world is a very different place in the twenty-first century.

....Disputes over the prospect of eradicating diseases might be cast as a battle between optimism and pragmatism, were it not for limited budgets. One criticism of eradication goals is that they drain resources from other health programs.