Posted on Leave a comment

Bill Gates: The Threat Of A “Disease X” Global Pandemic Is “Very Real”

When it comes to global health policy, Bill Gates has never been known for subtlety. So it’s hardly surprising that his charitable foundation’s latest report on the greatest challenges facing mankind might make some readers want to lock themselves in an indefinite quarantine.

Gates

Readers familiar with Gates’ previous warnings about the rising risk of a global pandemic will recognize the top three risks: antibiotic resistance, governmental reluctance to fund health-care solutions and the next global contagion. The latter risk factor has become so universally feared by health professionals that the World Health Organization already has a name for it: “Disease X”. The likelihood of an explosive global pandemic breaking out in the relatively near future increases along with the population in the world’s poorest countries, which are presently experiencing explosive population growth even as birth rates in the developed world plummet. And if the world’s wealthiest countries don’t invest resources to combat these issues in Africa, South America and Asia now, it will be infinitely more expensive grappling with the consequences on the back-end, as Gates explained in an interview with the Telegraph.

“We are not fully prepared for the next global pandemic,” he says. “The threat of the unknown pathogen – highly-contagious, lethal, fast-moving – is real. It could be a mutated flu strain or something else entirely. The Swine Flu and 2014 Ebola outbreaks underscored the threat.”

The risks associated with the population boom in the poorest countries in Africa has long been treated as “the elephant in the room” by global policy makers. Even if one sets aside the risk of disease, the developing world must step up to monitor the economic impacts of rapidly increasing populations, confronting issues like political instability to ensure that the expansion will yield unbridled growth like similar periods in China and India.

According to demographers projections, the population of Africa is set to explode to 4 billion by the end of the century.

Population

While the story includes few references to world leaders, Gates paused to praise UK Prime Minister Theresa May for her recent tour of Africa, during which she re-committed to UK aide spending…

Gates commends Theresa May’s recent Africa tour where she recommitted to Britain’s aid spending target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income. He says he has attempted to meet with Jeremy Corbyn, although so far failed, due to a schedule clash.

…And tried what looked to be her first attempt at dancing.

Embedded video

Moving on from this talk of global pandemics, Gates spared a few moment to opine on how governments should approach social media. And in his view, they should step up and regulate it with a heavy hand.

“They will step up in a pretty strong way to all those things. People who are super-successful need to be held to a very high standard. Some of that will lead to a very unfair personalisation as though these mistakes are somehow down to flaws in Mark’s character, or something like that. Mark knows he is in a position of responsibility and is trying to learn about this stuff.”

We imagine Mark Zuckerberg will be thrilled to hear that.

Read More

Posted on Leave a comment

Superbugs Found Along Britain’s Surf

Superbugs Found Along Britain’s Surf By Tim Sandle

superbug

Some Escherichia Coli are becoming resistant to antibiotics

A proportion of the bacteria found along the U.K. coastline are pathogenic. Of these pathogen some, worryingly, are antibiotic resistant according to a new survey.

Researchers have found that some of the Escherichia coli bacteria found floating at the surface of Britain’s coastal waters are resistant to antibiotics. Samples were taken from 97 different costal spots around Wales and England. Of these 97 sites, 15 contained E. coli that was resistant to third-generation cephalosporins, These are a class of antibiotics that are used as antibiotics of last resort, when the other antibiotics cannot be used.

Although the actual proportions of antibiotic resistant bacteria was low (less than one tenth of one percent), this is still a dangerous number and poses a risk to people who swim with cuts or to aquatic sports enthusiasts.

Commenting on the findings, lead researcher Dr. Gaze said in his conference speech: “Although this research has established that coastal waters are a potential source of exposure to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, we’re not recommending that people stop visiting the beach. Exercise and enjoyment of the natural environment has many established benefits for health and well-being and this kind of research will help us ensure people can still make the most our coastal resources.”

The growing menace of antibiotic resistance is, arguably, the single biggest threat faced by the world’s population.

The study was conducted by microbiologists working at the University of Exeter. The findings were taken to a recent meeting of the Society for General Microbiology.