The Covid battle leaves a priceless legacy of drugs to treat the next pandemic

The pandemic is over, peaking in December with the arrival of the Omicron variant, and we were lucky it was coronavirus and not another flu.

Its pandemic subsided relatively quickly because most industrialized countries managed to vaccinate the weak quickly and effectively.

With the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, many people who did not wish to be vaccinated were vaccinated naturally by exposure to the relatively harmless new variant.

Ireland and the UK should be proud to have been among the first in the world to take a step forward and decide to lift the bulk of all pandemic restrictions in recent months.

I am sure that in the coming weeks and months we will see other countries around the world doing the same.

We successfully got through Covid faster than many other countries because we opened our societies in the summers of 2020 and 2021.

Yes there have been subsequent lockdowns but by opening up over these two summers we have allowed many to become infected and build up natural immunity to Covid at a time of year when the likelihood of contracting serious illness from other respiratory conditions is significantly reduced was.

The world media will scare us to death from time to time by discussing the possible emergence of an evil new variant. However, I’m absolutely certain there won’t be any nasty new variants or mutations because this pandemic was a coronavirus. Coronaviruses tend to be more predictable, generally more interrelated, and less pathogenic as they evolve.

One of the reasons for this is that they belong to a small group of known viruses that have a built-in ‘proofreading’ ability, meaning that the viruses effectively ‘double check’ whether new variants are similar to previous ones.

This differs from the way influenza, Zika virus, Ebola, yellow fever, or Lassa fever replicate themselves.

What new variants of these diseases will look like and how pathogenic or contagious they will be is difficult to predict.

Many people are still dying from Covid-19, especially in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world, with just 39 percent of people over 80 being fully vaccinated and 49 percent of those over 60.

Meanwhile, between January and March this year, 96 percent of deaths in people over 60 occurred, according to a report released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The vast majority of people under the age of 60 with no underlying health problems have very little to fear from Covid-19.

Globally, people who became very ill and died from Covid were generally in their 70s, had underlying health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory problems or cancer, or were obese. North America has the highest obesity rate in the world.

According to the UN, the median age of Europe’s population – the median between the youngest and oldest citizens – was 43 in 2019. Compared to 39 years in North America and 20 years in Africa.

WHO data shows Africa has the lowest number of Covid deaths in the world, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control, despite just 16 percent of Africans being fully vaccinated.

The countries that will struggle with Covid in the next 12 months I think will be countries like Australia and New Zealand which have remained closed from the outside world and never had a chance to build natural immunity and China which also has strict lockdowns enacted and had no access to highly successful Western vaccines.

Scientists have been working on mRNA technology for decades and it is viewed in the scientific community as a potential “holy grail” for a variety of disease prevention.

Thanks to the accelerated pace of innovation during the pandemic, this mRNA technology has proven successful and has been accepted by regulators in the US and Europe.

New mRNA vaccines can now be mass-produced in less than 100 days and are a weapon not only against Covid-19 but also against future pandemics.

They also show promise for some cancers.

Poolbeg Pharma specializes in a range of pipeline drugs for infectious diseases to prevent future pandemics.

These drugs range from POLB-001, a drug used to treat severe influenza, to POLB-002, a nasal spray with panviral blocking ability.

The main reason this pandemic has done so much damage is because governments and drug companies around the world have spent virtually nothing on developing new infectious disease products for the past 30 years.

More money has been spent on developing products for infectious diseases in the last two years than in the last 50 years. We were very fortunate that this pandemic was a coronavirus pandemic because it was predictable.

I am convinced that with all the efforts being made in biotechnology around the world, governments will be so well prepared that no matter what nature throws at us, we will have a drug to treat the next pandemic as soon as she arrives

Cathal Friel is Co-Founder and Chairman of Poolbeg Pharma Plc The Covid battle leaves a priceless legacy of drugs to treat the next pandemic

Fry Electronics Team

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