Are we setting ourselves up for more pandemics to come?

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Issue 22: 7 July 2020
Every week, HEADlines brings you the latest news, stories and commentaries
in education and healthcare. This week, get insights on the latest developments
in healthcare.
A new strain of swine flu found to infect humans

Last Wednesday, researchers from China revealed a startling report - a new strain of the H1N1 virus, has been circulating in Chinese pig farms since 2016, and silently infecting about 10% of swine workers. Named G4, the virus has characteristics of the 2009 H1N1 virus and the 1918 influenza, both of which had spread to to millions worldwide, causing huge number of deaths.

While not of immediate threat, authors of the study are calling for urgent measures to control its spread in pigs and closely monitor people working with pigs. The key concern is that G4 may further adapt in humans and potentially morph into a human pandemic.

For years, expert organisations like the World Health Organisation (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have warned that most emerging infectious diseases originate from animals. Industrial farming practices have only exacerbated these risks, not just for viral but also bacterial pandemics like the 'Black Death' in the Middle Ages. 

For now, experts are calling for calm as there is no evidence of any human-to-human transmission of the G4. China too has downplayed the study as being unrepresentative. Regardless, this is a wake up call for humans to reflect on our lifestyle choices and take active steps to change the way we interact with farmed and wild animals. If not, we risk setting ourselves up for more pandemics to come.
Healthcare in the Spotlight
Experts expect COVID-19 vaccines to prevent serious symptoms but may not completely block it.

Photo credit: CDC on Unsplash
With dozens sleeping in a single room, and hundreds using the same public toilet, authorities realised early on a non standard approach would be needed.
There are physiological and clinical reasons why fever screening won't work.
The focus in TCM lies in the restoring balance in the body, rather than the virus that is making the attack.
Recent data suggests that dust storms, worsened by accelerating climate change, may be associated with a spike in respiratory ICU admissions in the US.
After a decade of failed experimental drugs to treat Alzheimer's, three research institutes in Seattle join forces to investigate how the disease take root in the brain.
Officials expect total numbers to exceed the 22,170 cases reported in 2013, the largest dengue outbreak in Singapore history.

Photo credit: Skeeze on Pixabay
What do a Silicon Valley CEO, an ASEAN education expert and
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That's all for the week!
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