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Preventing Pandemics

Civic Warriors Episode 24 with Dalberg Catalyst

"This single event can have a ripple effect"

Many have asked the question and wondered… how did COVID-19 happen? Brad and Ashley speak with Bhavana as she dives in to the causes and preventative measure that can and should be taken with respect to pandemics.
Bhavana will discuss:
  • The next big conversation – why do pandemics occur?
  • How can we prevent a pandemic?
  • What are governments and other statekholders doing?
  • What can you do to help prevent the next big pandemic?

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This podcast was transcribed through a third-party application. Please disregard any misrepresentations.

Brad:
Hey warriors. Thanks for tuning. In on today’s episode of Civic Warriors, we talk about one of the most important topics, preventing pandemics. We’re all living through the COVID pandemic and it’s affecting us all in different ways. However, when will the next major virus or other detrimental health impact hit us a hundred years, 20 years, maybe even next year. We had a great discussion today with Bhavana Chilukur from Dahlberg Catalyst on what they are doing to raise awareness to preventing pandemics. Delberg Catalyst is a 501-c3 organization that generates and brings to life multi-stakeholder initiatives to address some of today’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. Ultimately changes need to occur on the local state, federal, and international level to prevent the next big pandemic. So let’s welcome Bhavana to the show and find out how we can prevent the next big pandemic. Alright. Welcome everybody to our Civic Warriors podcast today. Uh, today we are joined by Bhavana Chilukur from Dahlberg catalyst. And we are going to talk about probably one of the most interesting topics that not everybody’s talking about, that we want to make sure everybody’s aware of and, uh, raising the conversation about, and that’s preventing pandemics. Uh, many of us are in the time period where we’re living through COVID, uh, the COVID-19 pandemic, uh, different individuals around the world are affected differently. Um, but the bigger issue here is not necessarily COVID-19, uh, as a, as a virus or as a, as a problem, it’s more, why did it happen and how do we prevent, uh, prevent a future pandemic or major life-threatening issue from happening, uh, based on things that we as human beings are doing either to our earth or to our animals or to whatever it may be, that’s causing this. So welcome, welcome to our show, Bhavana, and we appreciate having you here.

Bhavana :
Well, it’s great to be here. Thank you both so much. Yeah.

Brad:
So, um, why don’t we just start out, maybe if you can, um, just talk a little bit about, uh, about yourself, how you got involved with Dalberg Catalyst and, and also, um, how Dahlberg kind of got involved with this concept of preventing pandemics.

Bhavana :
Yeah, absolutely. Um, so I’m director of programs at Delberg Catalyst. Um, I’ve been working in the social impact space, um, for my whole career, so about, uh, 12 years now. Um, and I kind of grew up, um, my family is of Indian heritage. So we grew up kind of going there every few years and there’s just a lot of, um, you know, inequality there. And just from a young age, I was like, I think these are the types of problems that, you know, I want to work on. And so I went to school for international development, got my master’s and right away I joined, um, the Dahlberg Group, which is a collection of social enterprises then works on, um, solving the world’s most pressing problems and catalyst, um, is actually one entity in that group. Uh, that was started about, um, a couple of years ago now, but really relaunched an earnest last year. And we’re the only nonprofit in the group. And, uh, basically our mandate is to build, um, multi-stakeholder initiatives for impact. So we like to work on what we call systems issues, which are just really thorny issues that don’t sit in a, in a specific silo of health or environment or gender, but things that really span multiple sectors and therefore are really, really hard to solve. And so pandemics are, are a systems problem. They span health and environment, um, food, climate, all of these different things. And so, uh, one of our biggest initiative that we’re working right now is how to kind of prevent pandemics at the source. So stopping them before they have a chance to start. Um, and so we’ve been working on this, um, even before COVID-19 hit, we kind of knew, um, as we can talk more about, we knew this was coming, this wasn’t a surprise, even though it feels like a surprise. And so it’s really our job now to make sure that it doesn’t happen again, that we don’t have, uh, another, another COVID-19 to live through.

Brad:
Yeah. And it’s interesting because I think now a lot of researchers are looking back at, you know, even some simple things as data and what are the signs of COVID 19 before COVID 19. And I think I was having a conversation recently and someone was like, yeah, like you could tell, even in like November of 2019, there was this crazy uptick of whether it was flu related symptoms or people visiting the hospital. There was, there was like a tipping point where they were like, you know, an abnormality, but, you know, I think it was just, it wasn’t chocked up to the global degree that, uh, we ended up getting knowledge about in early March. I can’t even remember. I remember sitting at home and like, you know, you heard it on the TV, like pandemic COVID-19 major issue around the world. And you’re like, you know, thinking to yourself, when is this going to hit us? How is this going to hit us? And then all of a sudden, like whipsaw, you know, March 18th, the governor’s like, Hey, you can’t go outside anymore.

Bhavana :
Like, yeah. You’re like, wait, what, what do you mean? Yeah, it’s, it’s scary and say it happened, um, it feels like very fast, but the truth is like, I think since about the 1940s, there’s been about 335 infectious disease outbreaks and it’s been growing. So that’s like 50 a decade. And we don’t, I mean, here in the U S we don’t think about it that much because many of these outbreaks don’t don’t reach us, but when they do, it becomes a situation like this. And so, you know, everyone’s heard of SARS and Zika, HIV, like all of these things are what we call zoonotic diseases. So they come from an animal, an animal pathogen that’s passed over into humans. And these things can really surprise us because we have, we have no way of knowing, uh, how it will affect, um, humans, like how sick it’s gonna make us and in what ways. And so COVID-19, um, even though we knew there was potential for something like this, um, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s hard to predict that it would get this big. Um, but you know, what we’re seeing is that we’re more likely to have, uh, another, uh, global pandemic in the next decade than in the next century, because of what we’re doing, um, with nature basically that, that we we’re, we’re interacting with nature and this unsustainable way that makes us more susceptible to these diseases. And so that’s the thing that we’re trying to work on here.

Brad:
And I think it’s awesome because you’re one of the first, you know, you and the coalition you’re working with is the first really to be talking about this. I think it’s great. You’re talking about a, during a current pandemic, because I think people need to be thinking about the why, why it happened as opposed to the, you know, why can’t I go to 7/11 today or whatever, you know, or why can’t I go to Starbucks without a mask on, you know, that’s probably the most common, common problem people have. I know, in the United States, but thinking about it, um, from your perspective, and I think you’ve talked about this briefly, what are some of the, the main causes of some of these major, as you mentioned, virus outbreaks, or I don’t know if I’m referring to that scientifically correctly, but some of these major outbreaks that have occurred such as a bowl, a such as SARS, such as now, COVID, you know, what are the top, the top causes that the science would say, uh, create those circumstances from happening?

Bhavana :
Yeah, that’s a great question. And, and that’s exactly what we’re, what we’re working on here. Um, our, our coalition, um, basically puts forward. There’s, there’s a couple of different ways in which we are, are, um, starting to interact with wildlife more and more in a way that is not unhealthy for us. And so the biggest of these is deforestation. And when we cut down forest, um, like forest are really, really important in our ecosystem because they house all of this wildlife that basically hosts all of these pathogens and maybe in the wildlife, they’re not causing disease, but they do cause disease for us. So when we’re cutting down forests, we’re getting closer and closer to, um, wild animals that have diseases that can hurt us. And, um, you know, at the forest edge, when you have communities living there, that’s where outbreaks, um, are going to happen as these communities get closer and closer to the forest. And part of the reason we’re doing foresting is just like, you know, we’re seven plus billion people. There’s a lot of over-consumption involved with that. Um, there’s so many goods that we consume here in the us from like potato chips to lipstick that have, um, deforestation in the supply chain. And so, uh, because of Palm oil, soy, all of these things they’re included in all of these goods. And if we’re cutting down forests to, uh, you know, consumer everyday stuff in an unsustainable way, we’re going to have another pandemic. Uh, another reason for deforestation is agriculture. So clearing to grow more, um, more food, but there’s better ways of kind of going about meeting our global food demand than just clearing forest. So that’s really the biggest driver. And then I’m sure a lot of people have heard the phrase wet markets by now. Um, and so wildlife trade and markets is another big driver behind what we call pathogen spillover. So spillover is the passing of the, the animal pathogen from animals to humans. Um, and, and wildlife trade is a huge, um, there’s a lot of potential for it to happen because there’s all these animals from all over the world. They’re not supposed to be next to each other. They’re kind of sitting on cages on top of each other. There’s like, it’s very unsanitary. And a lot of cases, there’s feces going from cage to cage. And that’s like, it’s like a recipe for creating, um, a virus like a COVID-19 when you have all these cages stacked on top of each other. And this is because, you know, there’s like an exotic petrol there’s people that consume wildlife, um, really that has to stop except for a few groups like indigenous groups that really depend on wildlife or protein, um, and have for centuries and, you know, local communities that live there. Um, there’s no reason for people in urban centers that have access to other types of protein to eat, you know, really wild animals. And so that’s a big source of spillover as well. And then we just need, um, you know, even here in the U S some of our, um, livestock production is really unsustainable with factory farming. And when you crowd animals together like that, that can be a breeding ground for diseases as well. So we have our, our responsibilities here as well. And so all of these kind of three pathways are ways in which, you know, we can, we can get pathogens into humans. And then from there, it can spread so quickly. Um, as we’ve seen in then, it just becomes really hard to control. Um, and so that’s why we want to prevent spillover in the first place.

Brad:
That’s right. Yeah. And, and, um, you know, I imagine with a lot of the, um, you know, animals in cages and things like that, and you said, you know, there’s obviously biological components that are passing based on them, you know, being trapped in this place. And then people interact with that. You know, there’s this phrase in the firehouse, which is if it’s warm, wet, not yours, don’t touch it kind of like the original, like what board blood bloodborne pathogen concept, but it’s very true. And so, you know, a lot of people, can’t a lot of, yeah, you’re going to start using that. A lot of people can’t, um, you know, can’t necessarily resist it because the wind blows and, you know, you’re interacting with this, or you have kids, a kid walks up and, you know, kids don’t always have the most discretion towards things. They could touch something on the ground and not realize it. And so, you know, the reality is, and everything you’re saying is exactly on point, um, just from a lay person like myself, which is how do we prevent those scenarios from even happening, because you’re not going to prevent once they are there. Once there is an animal in a cage, there are, you know, overcrowding in a place or wet markets. These things exist it’s bound to happen. There’s no way to prevent it at that point. So it’s kind of preventing the pre how do you, how do you create these environments that don’t include major deforestation, where you’re now releasing all this wildlife into the populated communities, because you took their home, you literally took their home away. So now they’re going to try to find a new home. And so, you know, on top of just the humanitarian aspect of not taking away all these animals homes, there’s also the concept that now you’re releasing this, you know, biological weapon into a community that no one really understands. So very interesting. And it’s funny because not funny, but we don’t really hear a lot of people talking about that. You hear a lot of people just being like, oh, you got to sanitize your hands. You know, you got to wear six masks on your face, but not, not a lot of people are really talking about w why did it happen? And it seems like the thing that frustrates me is it seems like you’re almost not allowed to talk about why something happened, because now you get into this finger pointing of like, well, you can accuse them of doing something that you don’t know they didn’t do, but it’s like, but that’s not why I’m asking it. I’m asking it because I don’t want it to happen again. I’m not asking it because I blame any government or I do anything I’m asking it because I want to know there’s going to be something worse than COVID. There has to, I mean, the amount of biological weapons, and I’m sure these governments play with, you know, literally play with on a regular basis, that’s got to turn into something negative. And now you take the natural elements and, you know, you can’t control the natural elements, so you can control things in labs, but you can’t control nature, especially now when we’re putting nature to this like real breaking point, you know, we’re pushing nature to that breaking point. That’s our fault as human beings.

Bhavana :
Yeah. Yeah. Just one thing. Oh, go ahead. Yeah.

Ashley:
I just wanted to ask and then, or actually you go ahead and then I’ll ask my question.

Bhavana :
Okay. I was just going to say it in response to something, you said Brad, around there’s something worse. Like there’s definitely something worse. We don’t know what it is, but it’s hard to say this because COVID 19 has been so painful, but, um, you know, the fatality rate is not that high compared to what it is for some other viruses. I think it’s only around one or 2% and higher, you know, if you’re older, first, certain demographics, if you have a preexisting condition, but there’s other viruses like Knippa virus, which has found in bath that has a fatality right. Of, um, 40 to 75%. So if you combine something that has like the contagion, the transmissibility COVID, which is really easy to pass, right. It’s respiratory. So you can just cough and like, get it. Uh, if you combine that with a fatality rate of something like nip a virus, like you have the movie contagion, I dunno if you have seen tagine, but like, that’s what you end up with and not to, uh, you know, we don’t want to scare people, but we also kind of want to scare people. Like we have to do some out there, so if it could get worse, um, and then you’re totally right. That just, nobody is, we’re all talking about, like that sanitize our hands and wear masks. And our goal, like as a coalition is not to, to point fingers or blame, uh, you know, any country like this, this type of spill over can happen in any tropical country. Um, but we also have to look at what happened and say, what are the changes we need to make everywhere, right? It’s not on any one country to make sure that this, um, this doesn’t happen because everyone’s talking about vaccines, everyone’s talking about, um, you know, how we can get out of this and that’s great. We need to deal with this current crisis. Um, but you know, it’s not just the general public, even at the highest levels of government, we don’t see any people talking about how to prevent this. And so we’re really trying to change that narrative.

Ashley:
So I was just going to ask, so what do you think are the biggest barriers currently, do you think that it is sort of being blamed on the fact that it’s just too complicated to look back on? So might as well just dive into all the ways to mitigate, like instead of mitigating, let’s just tackle what’s going on in front of us, or is it that people don’t genuinely don’t know? Or is there a bigger percentage that maybe would rather not know? What do you think are the biggest barriers and just getting to that point of focusing on the root of it? I’m a little bit more maybe than we are, right?

Bhavana :
Yeah. That’s a great question. I mean, honestly, I think a big part of it is that like we, as human beings just suck at prevention. We like, until something is going on, it’s even at the individual level. Like, I feel like, you know, it’s not until after you have a heart attack that you’re like, oh, I shouldn’t send you my diet. Like I need to start exercising, but it takes that big event where it’s like, you know, where some things, some damage has already been done for people to make a change, even in their, their individual lives. Like, it’s just, um, you know, you’re just focused on like, what’s right in front of you. And so people don’t don’t, uh, think ahead and governments in particular, like, you know, just they’re focused on right now and like getting elected and dealing with the right now, they don’t have like any incentive really to plan for 10 years down the line. Um, but that’s what we, we need to do. So I feel like that is, is a lot of the barrier. I think it’s just like, not in our nature, we have to fight against like human nature, right. To, to focus on prevention. Um, and then I think another big reason is there’s. Um, and this is part of the reason why I incubated this at catalyst. So the way, uh, all of these sectors work together, it’s just very siloed. So right now it’s all about health and public health, which makes sense, but we never see public health working together with conservation, but as an interesting concert, like into the future, like are going to see a lot of problems from things like climate change. There are serious. Um, it’s not just about like polar bears, right? Like personally, I don’t even care. I shouldn’t say this in public. I don’t even care that much about other human beings. Um, and so I personally, my background was always in public, um, in global health, like I cared about nutrition, maternal health, like kids getting enough to eat. I didn’t care that much about like environment stuff. It wasn’t until I started to learn about just how, uh, how much the environment affects human health that I started to be like, no, I should also care about that. Um, but that’s not happening, I think at a large scale, um, where you can kind of put some public health money towards conservation in recognition of the fact that conservation is public health. It really is at this stage. Um, it’s not for the polar bears. It’s like for our own, our own health and our own interests care about climate change. And particularly for pandemics, like, um, so the conversation right now hasn’t been talking about is on health systems preparedness. Like how do we make sure we have enough beds, enough PPE for doctors? Like we saw this last year in New York where doctors and nurses like had to reuse, uh, masks. They were, they didn’t have anything. And that was horrible. And I don’t know if you all are following the situation in India right now, but it’s, um, absolutely horrific, like what’s, what’s happening there, um, with this surge. And I think in Delhi, um, at some point the infection rate was 3% a month later, it was 36% to have that kind of a surge in a place like India where it’s so crowded. There’s literally people, um, you know, outside of the hospitals, like begging people to take, you know, their mom or their dad inside. And there’s just no space. There’s no oxygen, all of this, all of this stuff. And it’s so hard to, to watch those images. And I’m hearing from my family, they’re, they’re like, you know, they kick outside their been inside their house, not even a walk outside for 15 days. Um, people are posting on Facebook and LinkedIn, right. To try to find a hospital bed like it is a dire situation. And so when we see that, um, we talk of, you know, we’re like we have to have health systems be better prepared, but, and that’s so important. We’re not saying take any money away from health system, parents from oxygen or anything like that. But it’s really hard to prepare for a 3% to 36% surge because we can’t prepare for governments saying dumb things, you know, like leaders, uh, encouraging people, um, as it happened in India to like, just go to political rallies, to do all this stuff, it’s hard to do health system preparedness. And so we have to supplement that by just staffing it, like it it’s, it’s, it’s much more effective just to stop it at the source. Cause once it gets out of control, there’s a lot of pain and suffering. Um, yeah. Um, and you can see that now in India, so that like our best bet is to kind of invest at all stages. And that includes the pre spillover prevention, surveillance, containment, preparedness all the way to vaccines. We can’t just keep it on that scale.

Ashley:
Yeah. And I’m sure the more research that’s done on it. And from my perspective, it seems much more cost-effective to just try to mitigate the threat original that you had to try and go after how to prevent, um, these outbreaks then to then after the fact come up with the vaccines, do all of the additional work that comes with it, all of the pain, all the suffering people dying, you can’t make up for that, the money that would be invested would be so much more worthwhile. It seems like time, money, just like people all around.

Bhavana :
Yeah. And we’ve looked at some of like the cost of it as well. Um, there was a paper published last year in science magazine where they estimated, um, and some of the authors are in our coalitions that we’re working with them, um, directly. Um, and I mean, prevention’s not cheap if you’re talking about global global efforts, but it’s a way cheaper than what we just went through. Right. It’s about 20, 30 billion, um, to do things like cut deforestation and half shut down on unnecessarily wildlife trade invest in the early detection and surveillance. Um, compared to, I think the latest estimate from the world bank, from what we’ve lost from COVID is about 10, $10 trillion. Right. And that’s not counting all the people who’ve died. Um, all of the people who have like the long haul symptoms, you know, that aren’t going away after months, everything that’s happening to kids and the education, particularly for more vulnerable kids, like they’ve lost a year of school. Um, the social isolation parents, you know, having to do all like work while taking care of kids. It’s just, we don’t even know the full ramifications, um, like social and emotional toll on, you know, us as a society. So that to me is more meaningful than the 10, the 10 trillion. Um, so it’s, it’s really, it’s really, um, it just makes a lot of like cost sense to, to just, uh, invest in the prevention.

Brad:
Yeah, no doubt. And I, in the article that you sent over to us in Politico, they, they had that statistic too, or I think it was, and I read it, I just saw billion versus trillion. It’s like 20 billion to put it, invest resources to prevent. However, because we didn’t put in those resources, it’s now add another three zeros to that. And now you have $15 trillion of damage to the global economy because of this. And you’re right. That’s a, that’s a financial metric. That’s not even, that’s not even describing the impact it has on mentality. And you know, I mean, my, my lifespan has definitely gotten shortened by having two full-time working parents and kids. I can tell you that it’s like a cigarette. It’s like a cigarette. It definitely took seven years off my life. Like no doubt.

Bhavana :
Yeah, yeah, no, it’s, it’s, it’s hard and we’re still in it. Like, I think we’re still in this, right. It’s easy to, and in some way, I mean, I’m getting my second shot, uh, tomorrow, which I’m excited about. And so it feels, um, at least in, in, in the U S like, I feel like, you know, shots are hopefully available for those who, who wanted to get in, who are, um, you know, willing to get it. But, uh, that’s not the case for a lot of other countries. They won’t get this vaccine until like 20, 22. And so we don’t know, like COVID-19, um, could become like an endemic likely will become like an endemic thing, like the flu. Um, and I’ve been reading that the vaccine is only effective proven for six months. So it’s like, well, we have to get boosters every year. Like, these are all questions I don’t want to get, uh, you know, a COVID-19 shot every year, but obviously I will, if that’s the situation, but you know, I’d rather not, not figure out what the next thing is. I’m choosing to have to add another, another yearly shot. Right. So, um, that’s an a we’re looking at.

Ashley:
Yeah. How does, um, how does, from your perspective or conversations you’ve had, how does the conversation differ from country to country right now, as far as prevention and where they’re at? I think overall what we found is that it, it does seem to be missing kind of glow globally. Like, and that makes sense, like we’re in this pandemic right now. It’s really hard to expect folks to think about the next one. But, um, the reason, the reason we started this effort during COVID 19 is, is cause again, like we’re, we’re all so collectively bad at prevention.

Bhavana :
I don’t know that anyone would be listening if we were trying to talk about this, um, not during a pandemic. Um, so it hasn’t, uh, where we’re seeing some receptivity, we’ve had lots of conversations on Capitol hill with, um, both Republicans and Democrats, um, on this issue. And so we’re seeing more knowledge being gained on like, okay, prevention is important. There are a few bills on the floor to do things like control wildlife trade. Um, and so we’re hoping to, to see more of that, um, even in, in, in China as well. Um, we’ve seen examples of some progress. So there’s, uh, a program in China now where they are basically compensating, they’re paying wildlife traders to exit.

Ashley:
That’s a huge deal.

Bhavana :
Yeah. And I think it’s a great, uh, great solution because there’s all, there’s always people involved, right? Like anytime you ask them to you, can’t just ban wildlife trade and, uh, expect it to be okay, because those are people with families, they have kids to feed and they’ll probably keep doing it unless there’s some alternatives. And so what they’re doing is they’re just compensating them, um, helping them find another livelihood that is, um, you know, safe for the rest of us. And that helps to ensure that they’re not doing it underground right. That they have that cushion to fall back on. And so we hope to see, um, uh, and you know, China’s getting a lot of, uh, blame for this and there, there are certainly things they could have done differently at the beginning in terms of like, um, being more, more transparent about what was going on and all of that. And, um, but I think there, there are, um, you know, they don’t want this to happen again either. Right. And so the wildlife, uh, trader compensation street scheme is like a really creative, interesting, um, solution. Um, we’re also seeing really cool, um, solutions in Thailand. There’s a group, um, that, that started an initiative called pod D, um, which in Thai means I think eyes and ears, um, or, or something like that. And basically they train, um, farmers to look out for incidences of disease in livestock using an app. Um, so there, they very carefully, uh, kind of track, uh, where animals are getting sick before that, uh, pathogen can spill over into humans. Cause, you know, if you eat that animal, then, then there’s, there can be an outbreak. Um, and then they’re working to, to kind of report that back to government livestock officers. And so, you know, there are some little seeds of, of folks doing things on prevention. Um, in our coalition, there’s a great group called health and harmony that, um, is working in Madagascar, um, Brazil and Indonesia to, um, provide, uh, medical care and job training to forest communities. So they’ll stop logging and that’s resulted. And I think like a two thirds reduction in maternal mortality and also a 90% reduction in logging of primary forest. So a lot of the solutions are kind of at the grassroots level now, but we want to see kind of more policy action, um, at a, at a larger level. And so it’s still, it’s still, I mean, to your question, I think prevention, there’s not anyone country that’s like that we think is doing so great on it, but, um, there’s a lot of, um, venues coming up, like the G seven and the G 20 cop 26 that we hope we can kind of insert this into the narrative there.

Ashley:
Yeah. And it’s just the very beginning of it all too. So I mean, something like this happens, which has not happened in any of our lifetimes, it’s like shocking. And then it’s like, okay, what do we do to figure out how to fix what’s happening in front of our eyes right now, but just the conversation of how to fix it. And the fact that there’s small initiatives going on, seems like a great start. It has to start somewhere.

Bhavana :
Yeah, definitely. It definitely has to start somewhere.

Ashley:
But I’m sure it’s going to take a lot of time to get it to where you want it.

Brad:
It’s a, it’s an all hands on deck. I would imagine.

Brad:
Do you feel on that front? Sorry. I was just re the actual question there. Do you feel that this is a government issue or do you feel that this is a public people need to be doing like, like me as an individual in a society? What do I need to be doing something daily that would help, or do you feel this is a more of a government? The governments need to be working together to fund the actual initiatives? What are your thoughts on that?

Bhavana :
That’s, that’s a good question. I mean, I always try to think of what is there we can do. And sometimes it feels so hard as an individual to do anything right. To, especially when you’re thinking of something like COVID-19, I think there are some actions we can, we can take as individuals, but I think primarily this is it’s going to take a lot cooperation of, um, the big governments and what we’re pushing for in our coalition is a global fund for pandemics that would, that would include, um, financing for things like all of those solutions. I, I just met and having those be on a global scale. So we want to see that fund, but even at the individual level, um, we need to, I think that the best way is like, how can we put pressure on our lawmakers to take care this, um, again, they don’t, I don’t think that they have the incentive, just the way that our system works. It’s like, they’re just focused on kind of pleasing people. Now that’s maybe it sounds a little bit cynical, but that’s how it started.

Brad:
I mean, has it changed in the last hundred years since our government became, you know, it’s just, it’s never going to change because you have too many private interests. You know, I have, I have a great solution. There’s any politician out there listening, and you want to pass a law. Here’s what you do. Ready. I’m gonna hit you with this. Anybody that’s in public office gets paid a salary, right? And they get paid a reasonable salary. You know, they get paid absorbent, but let’s assume it that they get paid. What they get paid. Let’s say you’re a house member and you get paid 170,000 a year and you get federal benefits forever. Fine. That’s great. However, on your individual tax return, if you show $1 of other income, you are now kicked out of Congress or the house your dad would solve every single problem, because it’s all financial related. It’s people donating to packs, it’s funding, it’s book deals, it’s all this crap that they’re taking advantage of the system. And of course, they’re going to perpetuate the issues. They make more money off. It’s the same way. All the major news channels make more money when there’s issues like this, they just, it’s just, it is what it is. That’s how you do it.

Bhavana :
There could definitely be a whole, you should do a whole episode. I would

Brad:
Like define the word public servant. I can tell you how you define it. You take no money except a reasonable salary to live, because I, you know, you can’t pay them nothing and say, okay, go live. But, but if you make $1 off, anything related to your public office, fired, immediately. Motor purgatory.

Bhavana :
Say, yeah, go purgatory and stay there. It’s it’s, it’s so true. It’s like, we, I think we need to, it’s so hard. I mean, we have like our daily lives, we’re also busy, but anything we can do to put pressure on our lawmakers, I don’t, I don’t think that many people have like called their congressional office. You should do it and ask for what you want, you know, like they’re there to serve us. And so for this issue in particular, like call your Congress member and say like, what are you doing to make sure that we don’t have another COVID-19 in 10 years? Are you supporting bills to shut down wildlife trade and to ban imports of goods that have illegal deforestation and the supply chain? Um, they’re not like they, they take their cues from the public. And so we have to have a louder, a louder voice about this.

Brad:
Yeah. And, and, you know, as you can see with today’s age of social media, you know, you get enough people asking the same question or dealing with the same issue, people react, uh, they feel forced to react.

Bhavana :
Yeah. And that’s what we want. We want them to feel like this is urgent and care about it. Yeah.

Brad:
That’s a great suggestion. And we had, um, uh, Eric, if you remember Ashley, uh, from the New Jersey Audubon on, and we were talking, you know, on more of the local level and increasing public access to nature, and he, and that was exactly his suggestion on the local level, like call your local open space committee, call your local politician and start raising these questions and push them on, what are you doing about this? And most people I can tell you, I I’ve never personally done it. And I may, I may call it like, how are you preventing this from happening again? Because I don’t want, I don’t want, you know, listen, we got lucky with COVID. All children are not impacted by co not all. So a lot of children are not impacted. We got very lucky if COVID turned into children being directly affected and dying and they probably are. Right. So it’s not to downplay, but that being the case, this would be 9,000 times worse because now you would have this, this crazy component to it. So yeah, let’s, let’s get on that and start, start calling and harassing the people that are able to pass laws and push the legislation and push funding, um, because it’s not happening enough.

Bhavana :
Yeah. It’s so true. The point, the point about children is, is so true. Like we don’t want to reach a point where we get a virus that affects kids, you know, in the way like that’s, that would be terrible. And I think I suspect that as COVID effected kids, you know, at a larger scale, we would have been, you know, there’s, uh, by taking better action on it, but we don’t wanna, we don’t want to even test that. So…

Brad:
So as far as pandemics themselves, and I’m going to spitball a few questions and if you have the data, say it, if you don’t have it, that’s fine. Um, but you may, I imagine you’re dealing with some of these. So with, with some of your bigger pandemics that have ever occurred, so I’ll put COVID in there, I’ll put a bowl in there. I’ll put SARS in there. Um, Zika is probably one of them in there. What is the typical, when you, when you were saying before, like survival rate, transmission rate, like COVID probably has a high transmission rate, but also a higher survival rate. Some of these historical, uh, pandemics and historical outbreaks of viruses are, are there published statistics on that? And do you have any of that available potentially to, uh, like kind of like layer in like when a pandemic gets worse, right? Like you were mentioning that a trans, uh, higher transmission rate with a higher, with a lower survival rate, obviously, or with a higher death rate, if you will, another way to say it obviously is much more impactful. We kind of got lucky a little bit because this, this pandemic had a higher transmission, a very high transmission rate. Cause it was respiratory, you know, inhale it in. And all of a sudden you have it as opposed to having a lower death rate, per se, you know, less, less people. It targeted specific groups, people that had weaker immune systems, people, people that were elderly, um, you know, people that were really healthy weren’t as negatively decremented by it.

Bhavana :
Right. Yeah. I mean, it’s hard to say like an average across all of these, cause there’s so many, there’s like avian, flu, swine flu rumors are going back. And I think pandemics and slight sent late 19th century killed collectively around 40 million people. So a lot of people, but each one there’s, there’s no average. And I think that’s what makes it Garry like, cause we don’t, we can’t, we know something’s coming, but we don’t know what right. And so HIV is so different from COVID they’re both. So anodic diseases and um, about 75% of emerging infectious diseases will be zoonotic. There’ll be from animals. We do know that.

Brad:
Oh wow. 75%.

Bhavana :
Yeah. So it’s really the animal interaction. Like the deforestation in the wildlife trade is the animal interaction that we have to stop. Um, so we it’s, it’s, it’s hard to tell, you know, HIV it’s like sexually transmitted or, or blood transfusions, whereas with COVID it’s respiratory, we don’t know until it appears. And then with something like Ebola, um, if you seen someone with Ebola, it, it, it just ravages you, right? Like they’re like the deaths are very quick. Um, and um, that can, the next virus, we don’t know, it could be something where it’s, it’s incubated for like a month and you don’t even know when you have it for a month and then it hits you. And so that means like the spread, that’s a very hard, um, disease, you know, Ebola. Um, you can maybe contain it a little bit better cause you know, it, uh, it’s there right away. And so you can isolate that person with, um, something, you know, if we get a new virus and it has an incubation period of a couple of weeks, that person could fly all over the world before we even know they have it that, you know, so like all this there’s that it’s hard to say, like there’s an average transmissibility rate or it’s all kind of over the place. Like I said, Knippa virus, you get it. And you’re basically like you are going to die. Whereas with COVID much, much less risk. So that’s why it’s scary. It’s like, there’s no, there’s no way to, um, guess. And we don’t, we don’t want to have to do that.

Brad:
Yeah. True. So, so based on that, um, we, uh, I, I did a poll internally and ask people, are there any questions that you want me to ask you? So on that exact topic, one of the questions, which, uh, I don’t know if this was a joke or not, but I don’t think it was, um, on a scale of one to 10. Should I build a bunker in case I never want to leave my house again, out of straight fear?

Bhavana :
That would be sad if we were all in our own bunkers?

Brad:
Stock up on those dried strawberries.

Bhavana :
No, don’t do that. Just, yeah. Just push for, push for things we’ve been talking about. Yes. Yeah. I don’t don’t live in a bunker. That’s not like the society. I think we want to build, I understand the fear. Um, and you know, some of us, I feel like some people, I think some of my friends during this tendon like, are like, oh, I realized I like hanging out. I don’t really like, like if you’re that type, maybe you want a venture. Cause it’s like, no, I don’t, I don’t think we should. Um, yeah, we, like I said, we don’t want to, we kind of want to scare people, so there’s action. But we don’t, I don’t, you know, we don’t want our kids to grow up in a society where they can go outside and you know.

Ashley:
Maintain our same way living.

Bhavana :
Exactly. Like we, we want to have parties, we want to go out, we want to, um, go to the movies and do all of these things. Um, and I think yes, after you’re vaccinated, um, do do those things, do whatever the, the CDC and, you know, your local guidelines say is safe. Um, but don’t, I would say, don’t forget how you have felt this past year. Um, it’s history shows. I mean, there was a 1918 flu, um, flu pandemic, uh, right after, you know, during, during, after world war one. Um, a lot of people died from that and right after that we had the roaring twenties and I feel like that is not by, by, um, part of that is we were, we were like, I want to forget that that happened. It was a really tough time. Like, let’s just have fun. Um, and I want to have, like, I think there, there might be another roaring twenties this time around where like people go a little nuts. Um, but I don’t want to forget this time, like how painful this was. So I’d say don’t build a bunker, but don’t forget. Um, what we all went through collectively, it’s going to be really tempting to really, really tempting to just be like, okay, that’s in the past. Um, we can’t afford to do that.

Brad:
That’s a great point. And that’s something very important to think about because you’re right. I think everyone’s inclination is, well, I haven’t traveled in a year. Let me go get all my traveling out of my system. I haven’t been able to go party or go outside or go in large gatherings or even go to church for, for, for that matter. Now I’m just going to go ahead into it and oh yeah, by the way, I feel like the world owes me something because I just had my freedom taken away for a year and a half. And so I’ve got to take advantage of that and you know, you see it in some, you know, some places are already, you see in the news, some places are probably already taking advantage of that certain locations in the United States specifically, which I won’t mention, but you know, the, the reality is, is that you’re right. It’s called human nature. You know, people feel that they’re owed something or people feel that, well, this actually taught me, I don’t have a lot of time on this earth. You know, it actually taught me that mortality is something that’s very, very fragile and that I need to then, um, you know, change my lifestyle or, or maybe increase my lifestyle in a certain way and not care so much about work. And, you know, so I figure a hundred percent, right? That’s a great analogy because you know, the twenties with the war, you know, the war that happened and with, you know, crazy, you know, pandemic that occurred and with a lot of other, you know, cars being invented, there were a lot of, a lot of, and all of that. If you take that, it’s a lot of that’s happening now, invention the technology. We have some wars that are somewhat ending, uh, as well as somewhat beginning, right now you have this crazy political and ideological divide in our country. That’s just, you can’t even quantify how mad some people already each other, because you post something wrong on Facebook, which blows my mind. Um, and we’ve been cooped up in our house with the pandemic. Some people have been negatively disproportionately effected by it. Now they’re maybe less effected or some people weren’t affected at all financially, but they couldn’t do anything. So now we’re going to take all those resources. We would have deployed that now we’re going to deploy them now. So yeah, that’s a, that’s a super valid point. So don’t forget everybody out there listening, you know, keep this in mind and remember that we still have a lot of work to do. And you know, it doesn’t mean you can’t go have fun, but we have a lot of work to do a lot of work to do so, um, you know, publicly, um, is there anything, is there anything that the public can do to support, you know, work that, you know, Dahlberg Catalyst is doing that, um, that may help you continue to do the work you’re doing?

Bhavana :
Definitely. I mean, I, so first, um, again, we work a lot at this intersection environment and health, and this is our main priority right now. So if you’re interested in this topic, you can look at our website for this initiative at preventingfuturepandemics.org. And there’s a lot of great resources on there. Um, a lot of our press, um, that really in a crisp way, I kind of explains this issue. So I’d say just, you know, educate yourself. Um, I think if you do that, you’ll know more than even some of the top leaders do that again, like I said, kind of put pressure on your local lawmakers, um, and you know, to do the right thing. Um, and to, to not, to not forget, that’s what we need to do collectively to not forget. And I just say, like, it’s, it’s so crazy to think about, um, if you really take a step back and think about this, it’s like, you know, uh, a year plus ago, 7,000 miles away, there was a bat or a pangolin and there’s like, you know, like it had a pathogen and it spilled over into like one person or a few people. And now, you know, my neighbor has died. My business has closed. Like the it’s so crazy to think about just like these animals, you know, on the other side of the world and just there’s this single event can have a ripple that affects, um, the latest stats and, you know, 3 million over 3 million dead, I think 150 million infections. Um, it it’s, it can be a very small thing. And so we have that work to do, and we’ll never be able to stop every outbreak, but we can certainly, um, you know, stop a lot of them. Like we have power here. That’s the big message. Like, there’s a lot of folks that thinks this was inevitable or out of our control, we have some level of control. And so we should exercise that. Um, so just keep that in mind, put that pressure on the folks in charge and, um, yeah. Read about this on your own and stay, stay safe. And don’t forget.

Brad:
Don’t forget. Yeah. And definitely read the couple, there’s a couple of articles out there that, that, um, you Dahlberg in the coalition of publishers, I think are great out there. Um, one on Politico, uh, about preventing the next pandemic or how to stop a pandemic before it starts. I think that was, I love the illustration in it. There’s a lot of like very fun graphics that was just, it’s easy to follow. And it, it, it gives you a lot of just information that, you know, before you and I chatted and Ashley and I chatted about this, I was, I’ll be honest. I was completely ignorant to it. I was, yeah. I wasn’t thinking in this direction at all, we’re all thinking exactly what you said, how do I get out of this and how do I get back to my normal life? And the reality is let’s, let’s, let’s pump the brakes on that a minute and say, okay, let’s learn from it. Let’s figure out how to go forward and let’s figure out how it can fund the right initiatives to, to prevent, uh, a worse, larger scale event from occurring, which somewhat is inevitable based on, based on, uh, you know, what you’re saying and what much of the science says, just based on us not changing our practices.

Bhavana :
Exactly. Yeah. You keep going down this path. Yeah. So yeah, the political article was great. The John Oliver episode, um, I would highly recommend on the next pandemic as well, if you’re a fan of his. So there’s, there’s more and more info coming out about this, so be sure to, to follow it. And, um, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s great to see, thank you for giving us this platform to also talk about this as well. And we want to get money as many people thinking about this as possible. Definitely this is, this is a huge, um, thing, and I think it just shines a lot of light onto that. We’re all connected and that connectivity could lead to some tragedy, but also on the other side of it, if we’re all connected and trying to make something better, it could serve us well as well. Absolutely. Yeah. That’s a great way to put it.

Brad:
Awesome. Well, thanks so much for your time and any, I know you just kind of laid out your closing, closing thoughts in that, but any, anything else you want to share or, or talk through, um, before we, uh, did you, uh, do

Bhavana :
No, I think that’s it. This has been great. Thank you so much. Um, and yeah, I, that, that’s all I would say. And I, and again, don’t forget. Yeah, just get educated on and thank you all again.

Brad:
Hey warriors. Thanks for tuning in. Make sure to subscribe to Civic Warriors and thanks for all your support. Have a great day!

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