I recently argued that it’s time for our community to be more ambitious.
And when it comes to preventing pandemics, it’s starting to happen.
Andrew Snyder-Beattie is a programme officer at Open Philanthropy, a foundation which has more than $1 billion available to fund big pandemic-prevent projects. He and Ethan Alley (co-CEO at Alvea) recently wrote an exciting list of projects they’d like to see get founded, including:
- An international early detection centre
- Actually good PPE
- Rapid and broad-spectrum antivirals and vaccines
- A bioweapons watchdog
- Self-sterilising buildings
One of these ideas is already happening. Alvea aims to produce a cheap, flexible vaccine platform using a new type of vaccine (DNA vaccines), starting with an Omicron-specific shot. In two months, they hired 35 people and started preclinical trials.
The above are technical solutions, which make it possible for a relatively small number of people to make a significant difference to the problem. But policy change is also an important angle.
Guarding Against Pandemics was an effort to lobby the US government for $30 billion in funding for pandemic prevention. Unfortunately the relevant bill didn’t pass, but the sum at stake made it clearly worth trying.
Efforts in the UK might be more successful — the country is currently refreshing its biosecurity policy.
If you might be able to help make big biosecurity projects happen:
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