Infectious diseases are illnesses caused by organisms such as viruses, bacteria, parasites or fungi. Common infectious diseases include malaria, measles, salmonella, HIV, the flu, coronavirus, tuberculosis and malaria. Infectious illnesses are usually transmitted from one individual to another while others are transmitted by insects or other animals. Additionally, some of these diseases can be contracted through the consumption of contaminated water or food.
While practices such as thorough and frequent handwashing and avoiding contaminated water or food can protect an individual from most infectious illnesses, some of these illnesses, including chickenpox and measles, can only be prevented by vaccines. In Africa, outbreaks of infectious diseases are sadly common, with cholera in Malawi, the Marbug virus in Equatorial Guinea, and Ebola in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo being recent examples.
It is estimated that roughly 10 million lives are lost annually due to infectious illnesses on the African continent. With the significance of these numbers, it is important that researchers on the continent are able to generate and share crucial data on the illnesses in a timely manner to help inform health decisions for the general public.
Scientists use various tools in their research, including genomic sequencing technologies, which allow them to decode the genetic material of illnesses and develop biological fingerprints to study and track disease-causing pathogens.
The data gathered also assists in the development of diagnostics, vaccines and treatments. This is in addition to helping public health authorities prepare effective systems for outbreak detection and response.
Tracking infectious illnesses across continents requires a range of interventions. Developed countries use a common repository to store data obtained from their studies on infectious illnesses, making it easier for researchers to learn more about the pathogens that cause them. While countries in the African continent do not have this platform, this may soon change.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Africa Centers for Disease Control in collaboration with the South African National Bioinformatics Institute, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine and other public health institutions in Africa have been involved in the development of a continental platform that will manage and share genomic data on pathogens. This platform is being built together with an ecosystem that will streamline data-sharing agreements between nations while also supporting governance frameworks.
This collective response from African states will not only underpin efforts to share critical data quicker and inform response to outbreaks but also maximize the utility and value of pathogen genetic data.
The heavy toll that infectious diseases are taking not just in Africa but around the globe has prompted entities such as BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) to invest heavily in the quest for immunotherapeutics, which can combat the most rampant among the infectious ailments.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to BiondVax Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: BVXV) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/BVXV
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