“The budgets for these efforts need to be expanded several times.”
Then there is the question of funding. The budgets for these efforts need to be expanded several times. Billions of dollars more are needed to complete phase III studies and secure regulatory approval for coronavirus vaccines, and even more funding will be needed to improve disease surveillance and response.
Why does this require government funding – can’t the private sector solve it alone? Pandemic products are extraordinarily high-risk investments, and pharmaceutical companies will need public funding to reduce the risk of their jobs and blow them up with both feet.
In addition, governments and other donors will have to finance, as a global public good, manufacturing facilities that can generate a supply of vaccines within weeks. These facilities can produce vaccines for routine immunization schedules at normal times and be rapidly readjusted for production during a pandemic. Ultimately, governments will have to finance the procurement and distribution of vaccines to populations in need.
Obviously, billions of dollars in pandemic efforts are a lot of money. But this is the scale of the investments needed to solve the problem. And given the economic pain that an epidemic can impose
– just look at how COVID-19 is disrupting supply chains and stock markets, not to mention people’s lives – it will be a bargain.
Ultimately, governments and industry will need to reach an agreement: during a pandemic, vaccines and antivirals will not simply be sold to the highest bidder. They will be available and convenient for the people who are at the center of the epidemic and most in need. Not only is this the right thing to do, it is also the right strategy to short-circuit transmission and prevent future pandemics.
These are the actions leaders should take now. There is no time to lose.This post originally appeared on the New England Journal of Medicine website. I wrote there about the need for a global pandemic response system in 2015 and the threat posed by a new respiratory virus in 2018.
A new blood test could save lives in the treatment of sepsis. Evaluate five blood markers to predict who is at low, medium, and high risk of death. With this knowledge, doctors could start treating serious conditions much earlier and with greater precision.
Researchers at several children’s hospitals across the United States have been developing the test – which they call PERSEVERE – for over 10 years. They recently evaluated it in two ways.
First, they used the test to predict the risk of death in over 400 critically ill children with sepsis.
They then used it on mice with experimental sepsis to compare treatment decisions. A recent article in Science Translational Medicine provides a comprehensive account of the study and its findings. Dr. Hector Wong, director of Critical Care Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, is the study’s senior investigator and first author.
He says PERSEVERE not only puts patients into groups based on the mortality of sepsis, but also allows doctors to decide which treatments to give to specific patients, such as picking the right medications and dosages.