The Next Outbreak? We’re Still Not Ready

Updated: Oct 31, 2020

Despite repeated warnings by experts of the hazardous potential of pathogenic outbreaks, a novel coronavirus has severely inflicted humanity as of late 2019, highlighting our lack of preparedness and pointing to various highly desirable solutions - foremost, in the field of diagnostics. While we may wish to view the current situation as the result of our past negligence, it is probably better looked at as an urgent calling to implement new technologies that would allow us to preempt deadlier future outbreaks.

The COVID-19 pandemic outbreak that began in late 2019 has crystalized the imperative need for a standardized operative point-of-care, or better yet, at-home, diagnostics apparatus to be globally deployed and called into action within a short time of the detection of a new pathogenic outbreak. Our Q-SENS platform is ready to meet all essential prerequisites to fulfill this challenging mission. The time to develop such a mechanism is NOW!

For many, the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak that began in Wuhan, China in late 2019, was an out-of-the-blue occurrence. However, many have come to realize that for experts, this was no big surprise at all. With an increasing number of zoonotic illnesses (i.e., infectious disease contracted by humans from animals) such as swine flu and rabies, Influenza A, SARS, MERS, and more, this sort of occurrence has been a pronounced concern of epidemiologists worldwide for over a decade.

Dr. Michael Greger gave a talk in 2008 about the animal protein industry and its dense and unsanitary livestock and poultry raising conditions, serving as incubators where new pathogens can flourish and then spread onto humans. Bill Gates in his TED talk of 2015, titled “The Next Outbreak? We’re not ready”, laid out a very similar scenario to the one we’ve been experiencing and called on decision-makers on national and international levels to take on the necessary precautions to prevent such a predicament.

Perhaps the most substantial gap in preparedness pointed to by Bill Gates in his 2015 talk, which has presented itself to us on a full-blown scale, has been in the field of diagnostics. Lack of sufficient testing capabilities and the ineffectiveness of existing solutions have left scientists and decision-makers guessing to a considerable extent, in their effort to stop or slow down the spread of the disease. By contrast, advanced capabilities, well-within our reach, would have allowed us to gain a more wholesome picture of the course of the spread of the pandemic, its rates of infection and mortality, and to assess its overall severity. Moreover, it would have allowed us to make informed decisions about lockdowns, break transmission chains early, and thus to contain the pandemic, prevent the global economy from tumbling downhill, and save hundreds of thousands of lives.

We may wish to view the current situation as the price we are now paying for our past negligence and ignorance of the signs that were MERS, SARS, Ebola, and various other pathogenic outbreaks. However, as Tim Hartford points out in an episode of his podcast series, Cautionary Tales, it would probably be wiser and more responsible to view the COVID-19 pandemic as yet another warning of what could be a future, far more devastating outbreak. As he denotes, each outbreak that preceded COVID-19 was met with justifiable alarm followed by a collective shrug of the shoulders, once mitigated or eradicated.

The medical device industry is a capital intensive one facing strict FDA regulations and the market and intricate array of forces acting within it, make the implementing new technologies a burdensome task. However, as the current crisis has bluntly demonstrated, neglecting these efforts is bound to lead to detrimental results.

The COVID-19 pandemic has crystallized the imperative need for a standardized operative diagnostics apparatus that can be globally deployed and called into immediate action following the detection of a new pathogenic outbreak. Various technologies, including Proactive Diagnostics’ own Q-SENS platform are ready to meet this need.

We all should be mindful of the need and join Bill Gates’ call for decision-makers everywhere to act to realize this imperative vision. We must not let this happen again! Share this important message now!

Click here to read about what a robust point-of-care solution should look like.

Click here to learn about our proposed COVID-19 solutions.

Click here to read about how groundbreaking point-of-need technologies could aid in curbing future pathogenic outbreaks.

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