Scientist calls for surveillance systems to prevent pandemics

Health University Lecture
Health University Lecture

Professor Christian Drosten, a virologist, has advised African countries to put in place adequate measures for the early detection and prevention of pandemics.

He said it was necessary to set up state-of-the-art laboratories, hospitals, and the training of the requisite human resource, especially scientists to be able to detect on time pathogens that might cause havoc to humanity.

Prof. Drosten, delivering a public lecture on the theme: “Preparing for the Next Pandemic,” organised by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in Kumasi, said “it is unfortunate some countries on the continent do not have any surveillance system in place.”

Those countries which did not have such mechanisms, he said, would be overwhelmed in case of emergencies such as pandemics.

The programme was held under the supervision of the German-West African Centre for Global Health and Pandemic Prevention (G-WAC) Project.

The Centre works to address the existential threat of global pandemics to the health and welfare of people through trans-and-interdisciplinary research projects, targeting the main drivers of pandemics.

These include the spillover of pathogens from wild animals to humans, health impact of wild habitat encroachment, extensive agriculture and climate change.

Prof. Drosten’s lecture covered the studies of mammalian viruses, complex ecology behind viral emergence, studies on coronavirus in bats, respiratory, enteric and vector-borne transmission.

In his presentation, the virologist gave an evolutionary history of virus and mode of viral transmissions such as the COVID-19, clear scientific evidence for respiratory pandemics in the past by viruses other than influenza, as well as epidemiology perspective – chain of emergence.

He indicated that most diseases transmissible to humans were of zoonotic origin.
Consequently, he suggested that, as much as possible, mankind should embrace vegetarianism and reduce the consumption of meat.

Prof. Drosten, former Head, Institute of Virology at the University of Bonn-Medical Center, Germany, co-discovered the SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV), for which he developed one of the first diagnostic tests in 2003.

In January 2020, he co-published a workflow of RT-PCR diagnostic test that was approved and distributed by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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