It seems as though every year there is another story of a virus rampaging through Africa, Asia, or even the Americas. And each time another Ebola outbreak occurs or the flu virus mutates in surprising ways, the conversation about global pandemic preparedness is rekindled. Borders are closed. Flights and cruise ships are cancelled. Images of quarantine tents and healthcare workers in space-like suits fill the news outlets.
The frightening truth is that we are woefully unprepared for the next global pandemic — it takes years for vaccines to be developed, tested for efficacy, and approved for use in humans. Even therapeutic antibodies, which often have more relaxed regulatory measures compared with vaccines, can take years to develop and implement. We desperately need a better, faster solution to ensure that when the next pandemic happens — and it will — the impact on human life and society is limited.