Scientists Hope Tracking Winter Flu Will Help Close Pandemic Knowledge Gap

ImageContent(562e45c2e4b0aac0b8fd7c69,562e42a91900002e00b94dab,Image,HectorAssetUrl(562e42a91900002e00b94dab,Some(),Some(jpeg)),ViktorCap via Getty Images,) Anyone who goes down with flu in Europe this winter could be asked to enroll in a randomized clinical trial in which they will either be given a drug, which may or may not work, or standard advice to take bed rest and paracetamol. Those who agree could be helping the world prepare for the next potentially deadly disease pandemic as well as helping scientists who are now desperate to plug gaps in knowledge left by previous missed opportunities. Scientists are largely in the dark about how to stop or treat the slew of never-seen-before global health problems of recent years, from the emergence of the deadly MERS virus in Saudi Arabia, to a new killer strain of bird flu in China and an unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa. They have been unable even to pin down where they came from. That is because vital studies to analyze transmission routes and test experimental drugs or vaccines have simply not been done during epidemics, disease experts say. It is a failure of science, they say, that should not be allowed to happen again. "Research in all of the epidemics we have faced over the past decade has been woeful," said Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health foundation and an expert on infectious diseases. "The world is at risk because there are huge gaps in our knowledge base. "We don't now have a va...
Source: Science - The Huffington Post - Category: Science Source Type: news