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Preparing India for tomorrow’s pandemics

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Early detection is key to minimising health and economic burdens Chandra Mohan The history of mankind is replete with ravaging pandemics that have wiped out civilisations. Now Covid-19 has spread to more than 180 countries, infected upwards of 83 million, and killed 1.8 million people in just one year. In India, in 1918 the Spanish Flu killed more than 13 million in just three months. And within the last year the country has reported more than 10 million Covid cases and 1.48 lakh deaths. Insights provided by Pasteur’s germ theory of disease, rapid advances in the development of new anti-microbial drugs and vaccines, improved housing, sanitation, and clean drinking water have dramatically reduced the burden of infectious diseases over time. Life expectancy in India increased from 32 years in 1947 to 69 years in 2020 leading to the illusion that the scourge of infectious diseases has been conquered. Nothing could be further from the truth. Increasing drug resistance, newly emerging infec