In a globally connected world, a pandemic that invades every continent hits every sector and disrupts supply, demand, and the ability of business, nonprofits, and governments to operate.
The Next Pandemic Fund is focused on influenza and other viruses, antimicrobial resistance (AMR), Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and technologies that understand how one species connects with the next (i.e. redox biochemistry and cellular communication).
The Next Pandemic Fund is focused on changing the terrain and fostering microbial diversity in the area of endemic and epidemic infectious diseases by diversifying the microbiome. As part of our mission, we seek to transform the model of vaccines through the innovation of biodiversity.
As the first line of defense against the next pandemic is healthy immunity in soil and water systems, a portion of the funds assets are dedicated to the training and support of farmers in their transition to regenerative farming.
By studying past events, we can draw parallels between what happened (what exactly was said, what exactly was done), what is happening now, and what we can possibly do to prevent similar outcomes in the future.
In 2018, it became clear that even after the deaths of 3-5% of the world’s population during The 1918 Influenza Pandemic, we had not advanced our research and treatment of influenza. Until we are proactive, instead of reactive, we run the risk of history repeating itself.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
– George Santayana
The 1918 flu influenza pandemic, which originated from pigs in Kansas, infected 500 million people around the world, and resulted in up to 100 million deaths, making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history. There was a combination of factors involved during this time, namely a strain of the virus that most people did not have any immunity to (no partial immunity having been through the flu); malnutrition after the war; and, lack of antibiotics.
“We have been averaging about 100 deaths per day, and still keeping it up. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a new mixed infection here, but what I don’t know.”
– A doctor stationed at Camp Devens, a military base just west of Boston, writes to a friend and fellow physician, September 29, 1918
The 2018 influenza season “set the record for the highest number of flu-related deaths in children reported during a single flu season (excluding pandemics),” according to the CDC. Severe complications and deaths from the flu were largely attributable to the 3-4 strains that spread during the 2018 flu season. In many cases, the flu virus changed genes with each other, mutated without correcting itself, and any vaccine administered was not the right key for the lock. This made for a more deadly virus, and for many who were exposed, the immune system went into overdrive, set off a chain reaction, caused respiratory distress and shut down organs.
“This doesn’t mean that we are having a pandemic, just that levels of influenza-like-illness are as high as what we saw during the peak of 2009.”
– CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat, February 9, 2018
Today, we have 4x the population and 50x the travel as we did a century ago. We also have people who are older, which presents certain risk factors. On top of it, there are so many viral incubators around the world, such as chicken farms, where there is a possibility of gene swapping of viruses that can travel from migratory birds to chickens to humans.
Today, we do not have enough intensive care facilities for when people do get a sea storm reaction of an over-exuberant immune system, and we simply cannot care for all them. For different reasons, we may be just as vulnerable as those in 1918.
In all parts of the world, antibiotic resistance is rising to dangerously high levels. According to the World Health Organization, it is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.
By 2050, more than 10 million people could die each year from infections from resistant microbes, overtaking cancer, according to the Review on Antimicrobial Resistance.
The estimated cost to the world could be as high as $100 trillion, more than five times the annual GDP of the United States. The domino effect of the prevention of superbugs could ruin the economies of some countries and push nearly 30 million people into poverty.
Most experts outside of the food and drug industries believe the feeding of antibiotics to livestock is causing the problem of resistance bacteria.
Rising populations and wealth have led to a greater consumption of meat. According to the FDA, almost 80% of antibiotics used in the United States are used for industrial livestock production — to feed farm animals — not for sickness, but for growth promotion. Our consumption of meat could ultimately lead to our demise.
Ending routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is critical and containment efforts of resistance microbes must be implemented without delay.
“Each year, 90,000 Americans suffer from invasive MRSA infection. About 20,000 die. Many are children.”
– MRSA Research Center, The University of Chicago
In July 2018 Novartis joined other pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Bayer in announcing they, too, will no longer research or develop new antibiotics. Even though Novartis’s announcement was largely lost in the headlines, it has implications for claiming many lives as society faces the expanding threat of antibiotic resistance.
Although occasional outbreaks of exotic diseases, such as Ebola or Zika, briefly remind the world of the importance of these drugs, society remains ambivalent to the increased number of reported cases of preventable diseases like whooping cough and diphtheria. This is also evidenced in the declining rates of immunization against childhood diseases and the re-emergence of infectious diseases in Europe, such as measles, that are beginning to gain momentum in the United States.
The rise and comeback of infectious diseases is attributed to an unfortunate combination of nature and business. An overuse of antibiotics in the past did allow bacteria in nature to gain resistance to certain drugs, causing society to lose confidence in their ability to prevent and treat infectious disease.
These trends have not been good news for public health and have led many experts to declare we now live in a post-antibiotic world.
As a result, declining profits provoked many of these pharmaceutical pioneers to stop antibiotic research and development in search of more lucrative markets. In fact, research taking place at Washington University in St Louis discovered that there have been more than 150 antibiotics introduced since the Second World War, with more than 30% of these drugs now discontinued, primarily due to resistance. Our research also found that the number of companies’ currently researching antibiotics has declined by more than 75% since the late 1980s. And for every new antibiotic created since the 1990s, three established antibiotics will no longer be available.
“Of the more than 150 antibiotics introduced since the second world war, more than 30% have been discontinued, primarily due to resistance.”
– Washington University in St. Louis
Some have argued a perceptive financial market will recognize new opportunities and address the crisis, but Washington University recognizes two major issues with this view. First, a new drug requires at least a decade of development before it is approved for public use, whereas a drug-resistant superbug can hop from one continent to another at the speed of a modern jetliner. Second, as bad as the public health situation has become, the market is clearly not yet positioned to recognize the impending disaster, as evidenced by Novartis’ July 2018 announcement.
Our continued failure to confront what could become a postantibiotic world threatens a return to incessant waves of otherwise preventable and treatable plagues that could hobble societies and economies throughout the world. In the absence of a governmental and pharmaceutical will to prioritize prevention and treatment of infectious disease, it falls to researchers at institutions such as Washington University to continue to meet the challenge of stopping what could quickly become a major crisis to our global health. It is our hope that donors will join us in addressing this challenge by marshaling resources from philanthropists who share our vision to eliminate the threat of deadly infectious agents.
Our advisors provide even more expertise in the field of infectious diseases. We are honored to be working with a team of some of the foremost experts dedicated to preventing pandemics.
Zach Bush MD is a physician specializing in internal medicine, endocrinology and hospice care. He is an internationally recognized educator on the microbiome as it relates to health, disease and our food production systems. Dr Zach founded Seraphic Group to develop root-cause solutions for human and ecological health and extend his passion for educating the global community about topics such as the state of our soil – including the need to eradicate toxins such as glyphosate from our farming chain – and the importance of gut/brain communication as a vital part of our overall health/wellbeing. Dr. Zach Bush also founded ION*Biome, an all-natural, non-toxic mineral supplement that goes beyond the scope of probiotics to support gut strength, mental clarity and immune function, to create the optimum gut-brain connectivity and protection from the toxins we face every day in our air, water, and food, higher immunity, easier digestion, and reduced gluten sensitivity. He founded Farmer’s Footprint, a coalition of farmers, educators, doctors, scientists, and business leaders aiming to expose the human and environmental impacts of chemical farming and offer a path forward through regenerative agricultural practices.
Jeffrey Glenn, MD, PhD, is a Professor of Medicine (Division of Gastroenterology & Hepatology) and Microbiology & Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, and the Director of the Center for Hepatitis and Liver Tissue Engineering. He also heads a research laboratory focused on studying molecular virology and the translation of that knowledge into novel antiviral strategies, as well as the development of new treatments for liver diseases and cancer. He is the founder of Eiger BioPharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:EIGR), co-founder of Riboscience LLC, and founder of I-Cubed Therapeutics, local biotechnology companies developing several new classes of antiviral and anti-cancer drugs. Glenn was born in Los Angeles, and grew up in Switzerland. He received his B.A. degree in Biochemistry and French Civilization from U.C. Berkeley from where he graduated summa cum laude. He received his M.D. and Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Biophysics from U.C.S.F.. He trained in internal medicine at Stanford University where he completed specialty training in gastroenterology, and joined the faculty in 2000. He is the principal investigator on multiple NIH grants including a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Center of Excellence for Translational Research, an inventor on numerous patents, an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and a member of the FDA Antiviral Drugs Advisory Committee. He has pioneered new approaches to antiviral therapy, including the concepts of targeting host functions upon which viruses depend and highly conserved viral RNA secondary structures. These have resulted in a pipeline of exciting novel therapeutics designed to target the worst form of human viral hepatitis, provide a cure for the common cold and paralyzing enterovirus infections of children, and yield a universal treatment for influenza virus including the most devastating pandemic strains. He is particularly passionate about changing the paradigm for drug development to make the next generation medicines he is developing affordable to those in greatest need through GDP-dependent pricing.
Dr. Jonathan Quick (“Jono”) is an international leader on a mission to protect humanity from deadly infectious disease outbreaks and epidemics. He is the author of The End of Epidemics: The Looming Threat to Humanity and How to Stop It (2018 from St. Martin’s Press and Scribe Publications). A family physician and health management specialist, Dr. Quick is Senior Fellow at Management Sciences for Health (MSH) where he previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer from 2004-2017. MSH is a global health non-profit organization working in the world’s poorest places to build strong, locally led, locally run health systems. Dr. Quick has personally carried out assignments to improve the health and lives of people in over 70 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. Dr. Quick also currently serves as chair of the Global Health Council, the leading membership organization supporting and connecting advocates and decision-makers to deliver life-saving services through equitable, inclusive and sustainable investments, and policies. Dr. Quick is Senior Fellow at Management Sciences for Health (MSH). Carried out assignments to improve the health and lives of people in over 70 countries. Dr. Quick also currently serves as chair of the Global Health Council.
Microbiome and Soil Science
Antibiotics | Antimicrobial Resistance
Epidemics and Pandemics
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“The single biggest threat to man’s continued dominance on the planet is the virus.”
– Joshua Lederberg, Ph.D, Nobel laureate and bacteriologist