A little more than a year after the first Swedish case of covid-19, more than 250 Swedish researchers state that knowledge about viral diseases is too small – and preparation for new pandemics is too low.
That’s why it’s starting now the non-profit association Swedish Society for Virology a fundraising fund to develop Sweden’s work with virus research.
– We think it’s time for us to do something extra to combat pandemics caused by viruses. We want to work proactively, so that we are better prepared next time and avoid acting reactively as we do now with, for example, shutdowns, says Niklas Arnberg.
The association hopes that companies, organizations and the general public will donate money to the initiative, which has the Cancer Foundation as a model.
– All medicines and vaccines come from research. We aim high and hope to get broad support from the public, says Niklas Arnberg.
The last twelve years The World Health Organization, WHO, has declared six global emergencies. All are caused by different types of viruses. And according to both the WHO and Swedish researchers, new pandemics will hit the world.
– Next time, it could be a virus from another of the 22 other virus families that we know cause disease in humans. That is why the WHO says we need to do much more.
According to Niklas Arnberg, various tools are needed today to prevent new pandemics. These are partly antiviral drugs that can slow down the spread of infection, vaccines and better tests.
– We lack antiviral drugs against almost all viruses. Such drugs slow down the infection and spread of diseases that cause viruses.
– It’s an enormous problem. That is why we are in this situation. If we had access to antiviral drugs against coronavirus, we could have broken chains of infection and stopped the pandemic.
Corona pandemic hat put his finger on many of the knowledge gaps about viral infections and viral diseases. The lack of understanding burdens hospitals and costs society large sums of money even in normal years, says Niklas Arnberg.
– It happens almost every winter that one or more Swedish hospitals end up in staff situations due to common infections such as flu, winter illness or other viral infections. We also lack good tools to stop this. It’s a big burden on society, he says.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, the problem of pandemic management has become increasingly politicized, with a split between those advocating for tougher and more lenient measures.
Is there a division among you in the company?
– No, I would not say that. Quite a few virus researchers come to the same conclusions. We think that in a global perspective, all of humanity has failed to stop this pandemic. But we do not take a stand by the organization. Individual researchers may do so, but based on their own assignments, says Niklas Arnberg.
As a non-profit association, we do not want to praise or criticize the actions of the Swedish authorities. We focus on virus research and how we can make a difference. We hope that people will support us so that we in turn can help people and society.