MOSCOW, January 9. /TASS/. The international community should be wary of another pandemic breaking out in the future, but should not fear it, World Health Organization (WHO) representative to Russia Melita Vujnovic said.
"You see, this is a very complicated issue. History shows that pandemics are cyclical, but we cannot say if it will be in five years, in ten years or so on," Vujnovic said, answering a question about the possibility of another pandemic occurring. "The world changes. If previously, plague or cholera could be carried by a caravan or a single traveler, now it doesn’t matter if a person is a traveler, because we all travel a lot, we are constantly on the move."
"So yes, viruses and bacteria move much faster, and the real number of people that get infected can be very high. Any train terminal, any airport - there is a crowd and therefore there is always a chance to get infected," the official said.
According to Vujnovic, hygiene measures and good epidemiological monitoring, as well as many new tools - genetic research, first and foremost - are very important.
"Because they allow us not simply to guess like Sherlock Holmes: 'sure, this person contacted that person, and, probably, gave him these viruses.' Sometimes, it does happen where two people were in contact and both got sick," the official said. "But, if we look at the genetic structure of the pathogen, then it will differ, because these two people got infected in different places."
"The ability to realize early on that a serious disease is emerging, which can kill people or send them to the hospital, makes it possible to react very quickly," Vujnovic said. "The coronavirus taught us a lot: what works, what does not, how our measures, our fear and everything else affect the economy and the people. The response speed is, probably, the most important thing. Science has shown, both in Russia and other countries, that you do research, you produce medicine, not only vaccines, and this allows you to fight it."
The WHO representative said that the emergence and spread of some infectious disease is possible, but argued that the fear surrounding it would not be the same as before.
"It will not be the kind of fear we had before: 'pandemic means plague, it kills,' or 'pandemic means smallpox, it can kill.' Yes, one must be careful, but one should not fear," she said. "It is necessary to simply rely on your own healthcare and epidemiological monitoring system, which will make it possible to react promptly and to protect the people."