Humanity is engaged in a continuous race against viral evolution, and there are dire consequences when we fall behind: lost lives, a devastated global economy, and intense residual fear and anxiety. As of May 18, 2020, SARS–CoV-2 has taken 350, 000 lives (1). Our team is situated in Canada, where more than three million people have lost their jobs (2). Our national federal deficit increasing, and has been predicted to reach $184 billion in 2021 (3). From previous experience, the damage to society will remain even once the pandemic has passed. The SARS epidemic in 2003 was associated with a 30% increase in suicide rates (4), and more than 50% of recovered patients remained anxious (5). For healthcare workers, 29% experienced heavy emotional distress (6). Some anticipated psychological consequences of the current pandemic include increases in suicide and self-harm, alcohol and substance misuse, domestic and child abuse, financial stress, and relationship breakdown (7).
VPRE is designed to give us a head start, so that this never happens again.
However, VPRE strives to do even more than just help prevent the next pandemic. It fits into a future world that prioritizes biology, in which genome sequencing, biotechnology, and preventative medicine are standard. A world that’s attentive to science is also one that values and acts to conserve the environment. VPRE was inspired by biology – in turn, we hope that it can be used to preserve biodiversity and the natural world. Its predictions should serve as a reminder that intruding on ecological systems increases the threat of infection.
Check out the diagrams below to explore some of VPRE’s key impacts, as well as some risks we’ve considered and mitigated. Then, head over to the Society page to immerse yourself in how we envision a future with VPRE.
1. Our World in Data. (2020). Total Confirmed COVID-19 Deaths.
2. Statistics Canada. (2020). Table 14-10-0287-01:Labour force characteristics, monthly, seasonally adjusted and trend-cycle, last 5 months
3. Lewis, M. (2020). Canadian Economy To Take Massive Hit From COVID-19 And Oil — Will See Largest Contraction Since 1921.
4. Yip, P. S., Cheung, Y. T., Chau, P. H., & Law, Y. W. (2010). The impact of epidemic outbreak: the case of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and suicide among older adults in Hong Kong. Crisis, 31(2), 86–92.
5. Tsang, H. W., Scudds, R. J., & Chan, E. Y. (2004). Psychosocial impact of SARS. Emerging infectious diseases, 10(7), 1326–1327.
6. Nickell, L. A., Crighton, E. J., Tracy, C. S., Al-Enazy, H., Bolaji, Y., Hanjrah, S., Hussain, A., Makhlouf, S., & Upshur, R. E. (2004). Psychosocial effects of SARS on hospital staff: survey of a large tertiary care institution. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l'Association medicale canadienne, 170(5), 793–798.
7. Holmes, E. A., O'Connor, R. C., Perry, V. H., Tracey, I., Wessely, S., Arseneault, L., Ballard, C., Christensen, H., Cohen Silver, R., Everall, I., Ford, T., John, A., Kabir, T., King, K., Madan, I., Michie, S., Przybylski, A. K., Shafran, R., Sweeney, A., Worthman, C. M., … Bullmore, E. (2020). Multidisciplinary research priorities for the COVID-19 pandemic: a call for action for mental health science. The Lancet. Psychiatry, S2215-0366(20)30168.