Scientists are working on a prototype vaccine for all known pathogens
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Scientists are working to rid the world of Covid and all future pandemics by the end of the decade in a project likened to the American moonshot, it was reported last night.
The timeframe is exactly the same as the Apollo spaceflight programme that saw the US successfully aim to land humans on the moon by the end of the 1960s.
Experts believe they can build a "global immune system" using genetic sequencing and cloud-based computing to examine new cases of illness and spot early warning signs of unusual viruses.
"It's exactly the same timeframe – we can do this within a decade if we are committed to doing it," Dr Richard Hatchett, the chief executive of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), told The Telegraph.
"The technological foundations for being able to eliminate pandemics are essentially available. We know what we need to do – it's a question of will and mustering the global resources."
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The doctor, who worked for both Barack Obama and George Bush, was behind a social distancing strategy that could have saved tens of thousands of lives worldwide.
Had it been used at the start of Covid, the death toll across America and Europe would likely be much lower, according to The Telegraph.
The new system would work through a network of global laboratories that would sample data from across the world on sick people and animals.
Scientists are working on a new "moonshot" programme
Biochemist Dr Joe DeRisi, who first sequenced the Sars virus in 2003, said the network would help give scientists an "early heads up" to intervene before viruses turn into pandemics.
He has already set up nodes in 11 countries and says if 100 more had been established the current virus could have been much easier to tackle.
As well as surveillance, Cepi is also working on creating prototype vaccines for all the known pathogens with pandemic potential in advance of an outbreak.
It comes amid warnings from scientists that we could face a health emergency every five years likely caused by "zoonotic" diseases that spread from animals to humans.
Dr DeRisi added that there is an "impending disaster" caused by bacteria that cannot be killed off by antibiotics, for example.
"The only thing that would fall outside of the realm of sequencing are prion diseases like scrapie or mad cow disease, but I would call that an edge case," he said.