The Daily Dose: Food supply chains continue to be at risk because of COVID-19

The positive news about potential COVID-19 vaccines continues to roll in around the globe. The latest pharmaceutical giant to move quickly to broad Phase 3 trials is a partnership between American and Canadian companies. Per CNBC, “The trials, called ACTIV-2 and ACTIV-3, will look at U.S. drugmaker Eli Lilly’s experimental treatment known as LY-CoV555, which is being developed in partnership with Canadian biotech AbCellera. The companies announced Monday they began a phase three trial testing whether the treatment can prevent the spread of coronavirus in residents and staff at nursing homes.” Drug development has been one of the consistent bright spots during an otherwise bleak COVID-19 pandemic.

Shifting from the good to the bad, an article in Science explores an aspect of the current global pandemic that has been a consistent undercurrent but has not received as much attention as it probably should. The availability of food, whether it’s in local markets or at every point along the supply chain, has survived severe shocks. That might not always be the case in the future. According to the authors, “The pandemic is affecting all four pillars of food security (1): availability (is the supply of food adequate?), access (can people obtain the food they need?), utilization (do people have enough intake of nutrients?), and stability (can people access food at all times?). COVID-19 is most directly and severely impacting access to food, even though impacts are also felt through disruptions to availability; shifts in consumer demand toward cheaper, less nutritious foods; and food price instability.” Governments around the world need to ensure their supply chains have redundancies that may protect against more unexpected exogenous shocks.

Believe it or not, even people wary about the reopening of schools, businesses, and the broader economy want it to happen as soon as possible. We just don’t want it to happen in a haphazard fashion since it will only prolong the agony of this COVID-19 pandemic. Just look at the U.S. and its perpetually rolling outbreaks. One important thing that needs to happen is not only more testing but also a shift in testing strategy. Per Science, “Now, diagnostics experts, public health officials, and epidemiologists are calling for a radical shift in testing strategy: away from diagnosing people who have symptoms or were exposed and toward screening whole populations using faster, cheaper, sometimes less accurate tests. By making it possible to identify and isolate infected individuals more quickly, proponents say, the shift would slow the virus’ spread, key to safely reopening schools, factories, and offices.” Can we just get things done properly please?

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

IMAGE SOURCE: Creative Commons

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