The coronavirus is proving that we have to move faster in identifying and mitigating epidemics before they become pandemics because, in today’s global world, viruses spread much faster, further, and more frequently than ever before.
If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that while our ability to identify and treat pandemics has improved greatly since the outbreak of the Spanish Flu in 1918, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Over the past few decades, we’ve taken huge strides to improve quick detection capabilities. It took a mere 12 days to map the outer “spike” protein of the COVID-19 virus using new techniques. In the 1980s, a similar structural analysis for HIV took four years.
But developing a cure or vaccine still takes a long time and involves such high costs that big pharma doesn’t always have incentive to try.