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After nearly 3 million deaths worldwide (and almost 600,000 in the United States), it looks like the end of the COVID-19 pandemic may be within sight as vaccines proliferate. In "The Last Pandemic," the cover story of the new issue of Reason, Science Correspondent Ronald Bailey argues that technological breakthroughs and policy progress mean humanity may never again have to endure such a disaster.
"The greatly speeded-up biomedical innovation provoked by the current global scourge has provided future generations with tools to keep subsequent viral invasions at bay," writes Bailey. "These include fast new vaccine production platforms, the development of better diagnostic and disease surveillance monitoring, and progress in the rapid design of therapeutics."
The main potential sticking point? The role of governments, which continue to hamper the ability of scientists and medical providers to deal quickly and effectively with diseases. Bailey tells Nick Gillespie that while Operation Warp Speed—through which the United States government incentivized pharmaceutical companies to develop vaccines with unprecedented speed—was wildly successful, bureaucratic inertia and turf wars still stand in the way of quicker, faster, more effective innovation.