What is a Pandemic?
Pandemic word is derived from the Greek word, ‘Pánd?mos’, meaning, of all people, public, common. It can be further broken down into two parts, PAN- meaning widespread and D?mos, meaning district, country, or people. An outbreak of any disease that takes place over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents or almost the entire world) and affects a significant proportion of the population typically is termed a Pandemic.
One should know the difference between Pandemic, Epidemic, and Outbreak.
How is it different from an Endemic, Epidemic and Outbreak?
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Plague (widely spread in Asia & Europe), Spanish flu of 1918/19 (not originating from Spain), H1N1 (commonly called Swine Flu), a pandemic of 2009, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic of 2019/21 are all examples of a few well-known pandemics.
WHO (World Health Organization) has created a pandemic alert system that categorizes the pandemic as a risk of infection. It reflects the phases in which a viral infection turns into a Pandemic.
Is prevention and cure possible?
Viruses causing pandemics vary in potential infection and mutation capacities, and so do the strategies required for mitigation. The most cost-effective ones being, resource-constrained settings, investment in public health infrastructure, water and sanitation arrangements; amassed situational awareness, public health messaging and caution and treatment of affected and exposed. During a Pandemic, disease control teams work together to research cures and prevent additional outbreaks with an aim is to save humanity. Researchers and Biologists study the virus mutations and collaborate with medicine developers and pharma companies to develop medicine or vaccination as soon as possible.
Treatments for infections also depends on the severity of the infection. Generally, it takes a lot of time and cross border efforts to find a cure, and it is said that to normalize a pandemic situation takes three years or more depending on its spread and the level of outbreak. It is a fact that there are no sure shot cures for viral infections, and anti-biotics can fully cure only bacterial infections. Still, medical science has come up with advanced fighting mechanisms like plasma therapy and emergency use vaccines. Even after such developments, the logistics needed for the treatment to reach the ill are huge, and so it is right to say that prevention is always better than cure!
There are some common preparedness and response techniques mentioned below-
Where is the world now?
With the recent surge in infections and second wave of COVID-19, all countries are still under tension to figure out ways to control Pandemic spread. Even now, the world is waiting for signs of hope to counter the ongoing pandemic COVID-19. The drugs presently in use have helped reduce the time to recover from COVID-19 by few days, but that is not enough to be branded a ‘cure’. Hopefully, we will find soon a pandemic countering jab to relieve pressure on overwhelmed healthcare systems.