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article imageOp-Ed: Viruses are adapting faster than the vaccines

By Michael Krebs     Feb 16, 2015 in Politics
If the next pandemic is inevitable, and if entire categories of cancer are known to originate from infections, should society not be investing more money more urgently into viral research - or are we comfortable relying on vaccinations?
A great deal of heated - and largely misinterpreted - conversation emerged recently in many American political corners over the Measles vaccine and vaccines in general. While there are two core positions, (the Right's position that mandatory vaccines amount to government overreach, and Left's position that the public health needs collectively override the concerns of the individual), both sides appear to be in agreement that vaccination is an antiquated science.
The next pandemic will be upon us before our scientists can discover a vaccine and produce it in large enough quantities to protect the majority of the world's population. Don't believe me? Consider both the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic and the more recent 2014 Ebola outbreak. In both cases, we were collectively unprepared in the face of "never before seen" pathogens - and in both cases, our best researchers scrambled to find a vaccine. Consider also the most recent seasonal influenza vaccine: its distribution proved to be almost entirely without effect for the flu bug currently sweeping across North America.
While vaccines are an important bridge in protecting humanity from childhood scourges like measles, mumps, rubella, etcetera, they represent yesterday's science. They are a shield but not a permanent cure.
Additionally, many viruses are known to cause cancer, and there are links between influenza viruses and severe mental disorders like autism and schizophrenia.
It is time for humanity to pivot materially toward permanent solutions in dealing with these dangerous viruses. Recent research coming out of the University of Leeds demonstrated an ability to decode virus assembly code (RNA) and effectively allow for disruption of viral replication methodology. Researchers operating out of Colorado State University are investigating means for slowing down the spread of the deadly Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus.
While these efforts should be applauded, they also should be more aggressively funded. This would optimally be achieved through a public-private partnership between federal and state entities and the private sector - and the markets that feed the private sector.
Consider the CBS News report circulating today: A new, more aggressive strain of HIV has just been discovered.
We are running out of time.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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