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The risk of a frightening global pandemic threatens millions — and we’re far from prepared to deal with it

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If a lethal, respiratory-borne infection spreads around the world, the death toll could be in the range of 50 to 80 million people.

That’s the conclusion of an annual report authored by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board on behalf of the World Bank and World Health Organization, according to Vox’s Sigal Samuel.

The problem is that for all our modern medical knowledge, human technology has made it easier than ever for pandemics to spread before we even know we’re in trouble.

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“Scientific advances have made it possible for disease-causing microorganisms to be engineered or recreated in labs, or to escape labs when explosions and other accidents occur,” wrote Samuel. “Our robust transportation infrastructure makes it easy for travelers to pick up a disease in one country, fly across an ocean, and spread the disease to another country within hours. Increased urbanization and population growth also exacerbate the spread of disease.”

“And then there’s climate change, which causes natural disasters that strain national health systems, weakening their ability to efficiently respond to outbreaks,” continued Samuel. “Global warming is also expanding mosquito habitats, which means we’ll likely be seeing more mosquito-borne illnesses like Zika, dengue, and yellow fever — including in the US and Europe.”

The problem, Samuel continued, is that while experts are aware of this risk, “we’ve got a habit of paying attention to pandemics only when they’re actually upon us.”

“If, tomorrow, we had a global influenza pandemic akin to the scale and virulence of the one that struck a century ago — in 1918, the Spanish flu killed around 50 million people — it would cost our modern economy an estimated $3 trillion,” wrote Samuel. “And, the report notes, ‘If a similar contagion occurred today with a population four times larger and travel times anywhere in the world less than 36 hours, 50-80 million people could perish.'”

The solutions, according to the report, are for nations to increase funding and donations to low-income countries, share genome sequences, build trust with local populations, and involve women — who remain the primary caregivers in much of the world — in policymaking.

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2020 Election

‘So many bootlicking hacks’: Trump campaign ignites mockery with ‘hilarious’ list of potential debate moderators

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Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani on Wednesday asked the Commission on Presidential Debates to move up the last presidential debate to the first week in September, according to Axios. In his letter to the commission, he also included a list of suggested moderators.

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CNN’s Brianna Keilar explains why she battled Trump adviser: ‘You can’t just ignore BS — you have to shovel it’

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This Tuesday, CNN's Brianna Keilar got into a heated exchange with Trump campaign senior adviser Mercedes Schlapp, fact-checking her assertions that mail-in voting can lead to election fraud. This Wednesday, Keilar did a follow-up on the segment, saying that a coronavirus death in the U.S. is more than "2000-times likely to occur than a case of voter fraud in any type of election."

Keilar then addressed some criticism her network has received over its choice to interview Trump campaign officials when their struggles with the truth are well known.

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Jerry Falwell Jr has apologized to ‘everybody’ for bizarre yacht photo — and says mystery women is his wife’s assistant

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Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. says he has apologized to “everybody” after posting – then deleting – a disturbing photo showing him on a yacht with his arm around a woman he now says is his wife’s assistant, and in a state of undress that one of his students says would lead to a fine or expulsion.

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