Identifying New Viruses - 10 Years of Important Progress

Identifying New Viruses - 10 Years of Important Progress

10.03.12 | By

Over a decade ago, when SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) was first detected in China, it took significant time to identify the virus and to understand how the disease spread among affected populations. But since that outbreak, the ability of doctors and scientist to identify new viruses and move more quickly toward vaccines and appropriate treatment has improved dramatically.

There was a good radio report on the progress that has been made in identifying and treating new viruses this morning on NPR's Morning Edition. The story - When New Diseases Emerge, Experts are Faster on the Uptake - reported by Richard Knox looks at the recent emergence of previously unknown viruses in Saudi Arabia, Africa and Missouri and how viral disease experts have quickly identified new strains and are working toward better treatment.

Obviously early identification and action is an important part of medical innovation and the work of improving care and access to important medicines. It is also increasingly critical in a global society where viruses once limited in their geographic scope can now have world-wide ramifications. The progress Knox reports is impressive. More research and development will, hopefully, continue reducing identification and response time even further. In the end, that means that we here in America and public health professionals the world-over can be better prepared to meet and defeat potential global pandemics.

As an aside, one step that America's biopharmaceutical companies along with other participants in America's medicine supply chain have taken to prepare for the possibility of pandemics is Rx Response. In the event of a severe public health emergency or disaster, Rx Response seeks to work with local, state and federal emergency management and public health officials to help support the continued delivery of bio-pharmaceuticals and medicines to patients who need them in the event of a public health emergency, whether it is caused by a natural disaster, man-made incident (including a terrorist attack), or another health emergency, such as a pandemic.

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