Smart Regions asks two researchers what we have learned from previous pandemics and how we can prepare to deal with future ones more effectively.
For some, the COVID-19 pandemic might seem like a distant memory. But what will cause the next pandemic? And how can we be prepared to deal with it more effectively?
We spoke to Gregor Ebert, the head of BSL-3 Laboratory and group leader at the Institute of Virology (VIRO) at Helmholtz Munich about our recent pandemic history.
"Early in the 20th century, we all know about the Spanish flu, which was very devastating around the globe. And then for a longer period of time, about 60 years, there wasn't a virus coming up causing a pandemic. But then with the upcoming of SARS and MERS in the early 2000s, these timeframes seem to get shorter and shorter."
'Viruses are not coming alone'
"When we thought about aerosols and viruses, we didn't take into account that viruses are not coming alone," explained Claudia Traidl-Hoffmann, the director at the University Hospital of Augsburg's Institute of Environmental Medicine.
"They are coming with other particles, with pollutants, with heat, with everything. Complex aerosols. And this is what we are focusing on."
The importance of respecting the planet
"We are not respecting wildlife, actually, and this is why this pandemic is in part also due to the fact that planetary health is decreasing," Claudia added.
"To prevent the next pandemic would also mean that we have to go back to respecting boundaries, to respect planetary health. And then we can also have healthy people on a healthy planet."