In 2015, American business magnate Bill Gates gave a Ted Talk while the Ebola epidemic was being faced. He called Ebola a ‘Wake up call’ for the world at that time. An epidemic is an event in which a disease is actively spreading whereas a pandemic relates to geographic spread and is used to describe a disease that affects a whole country or the entire world. In his talk, Gates pointed out one way of treatment, which was about the blood of survivors taken, processed and the plasma put back to protect them. This approach was however not tried. There were 5 important points in the Ted Talk which according to Gates can help prepare for the next epidemic or pandemic. 1.Strong health systems in poorer countries: To notice an outbreak very early on. 2.Creation of medical corps. 3.Pairing the medical and military. 4.Germ games: Simulations carried out to find the missing gaps in curing a particular disease. 5.Stepping up Research and Development to find vaccines and diagnostics.
With our current place in Science and Technology, advancements are at a considerable rise. The fast-paced growth in Biology is allowing us to find newer vaccines in a fairly quick period of time. Just like Gates compared the precautions taken of an epidemic to war preparation, humanity could find ways to save itself from serious disasters. Medical technology has been able to improve the quality of human life, healthcare jobs and the world economy.
In 2019, Medical Technology created something which changed the way our world works little by little. Smart inhalers which is a small device attached to the inhaler which records the date and time of each dose and whether it was correctly administered and sends the data back to the patient. Wireless brain sensors, allowed scientists and doctors to team up and create bioresorbable electronics that can be placed in the brain and dissolve when they are no longer needed. CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) is the most advanced gene-editing technology yet. It works by harnessing the natural mechanisms of the immune systems of bacterium cells of invading viruses, which is then able to ‘cut out’ infected DNA strands. Some of the biggest threats like cancer and HIV could be cured within a few years.
But at the same time, these advancements are something we could find difficult to keep up with. People may fail to understand something basic like the consequences antibiotic-resistance could have and this increases the burdens on Research and Development because vaccines would fail to work on the masses.
In 2017, India banned the sale of Crocin Cold and Flu, D-Cold Total. These are known as combination drugs or a fixed-dose combination (FDC) is a medicine that includes two or more active ingredients combined in a single dosage form. The increased use caused antibiotic resistance in patients. People used Crocin for everything without realizing the adverse effects, and this led the Government to implement the ban. An analysis carried out by AIOCD AWACS, a market research entity had predicted the Indian pharmaceutical industry to face a Rs 3,000-crore loss due to this ban.
Science and Technology could help us find cures to face the next epidemic but small measures must be taken to prevent antibiotic resistance in order for the money and time spent to be of great benefit. According to WHO, policymakers like Governments could 1. Ensure a robust national action plan to tackle antibiotic resistance is in place. 2. Improve surveillance of antibiotic-resistant infections. 3. Strengthen policies, programmes, and implementation of infection prevention and control measures. 4. Regulate and promote the appropriate use and disposal of quality medicines.