The Pandemic Science Triangle and preventing a pandemic

Every pandemic depends upon Pandemic Science Triangle and there is only one answer.

Robert Koch and Max Joseph von Pettenkofer were both German Chemists and rivals to one another. Robert Koch is best known for discovering the pathogens of Tuberculosis, Cholera and Anthrax. He is also known for formulating the germ theory of disease which deems that disease is caused by a causative pathogen. When Robert Koch put forth his theory the world was reeling under a wave of infectious diseases which included Cholera which killed millions of people.

Preventing a pandemic is better than going for control or a cure -Max Joseph Pettenkofer Digpu
By Friedrich August von Kaulbach – http://ihm.nlm.nih.gov/images/B11809, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19241947

However, his theory was bitterly opposed by Max Joseph von Pettenkofer who said that diseases are caused by sewage or unclean surroundings. To prove his point Max asked Robert Koch to send him a sample of the Cholera pathogen and said he will drink it. If he is healthy after a few days, Koch’s germ theory would fail.

Robert Koch sent a sample of Cholera pathogen and Max disregarding advice drank the sample before huge crowds and media. After one week when nothing happened, Max called Robert Koch and said that his theory has been proven wrong.

Preventing a pandemic is better than going for control or a cure - Digpu
Robert Koch (Source: Unknown author – https://ihm.nlm.nih.gov/images/B16691, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1825905)

Many states in India are reeling under a wave of dengue infections. Hundreds of dengue patients have been hospitalized and there have been a few deaths also. Dengue virus is found all over the country but only a few locations have been affected by Dengue.

The Pandemic Science Triangle

A group of people go to eat at a fast-food corner and after consuming food and few fall ill while the rest of the members in the group are fine. Nipah virus affected Kerala state but is not seen in other states of India. The answer to this puzzle is Pandemic Science Triangle.

The Pandemic Science Triangle postulates that any illness is precipitated by a combination of three factors-The causative agent or the pathogen, the host and the surroundings. The question which can come foremost is, if we know the cause of the disease why don’t we take measures to prevent it. The answer is, medical science has progressed and many of the contagious diseases are curable today. Very few people take precautions to prevent the ailment.

The COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught mankind the importance of taking precautions and preventing the spread of disease. The future of mankind is unknown. Pathogens like Bacteria and Viruses are here to stay and we must take steps to preempt any pandemic in future.

The steps include regular exercise, taking a balanced diet, stopping smoking and getting full sleep. The state government and municipalities must evolve a mechanism to regularly monitor pathogens in the sewage to be warned of any future pandemic and take preventive measures.

The controversy between Koch and Pettenkofer was not needed and we can understand this today. If we adopt a healthy lifestyle and State governments and municipalities do their civic duty diligently, the chances of people falling sick will be greatly reduced.

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