Experts signal warning over preparations for future outbreaks

ORLANDO, Fla. — With much of the country still in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic, there are questions about how prepared people really are for outbreaks like this.

A University of Florida research professor believes as a country, America needs to change the way it prepares and responds to outbreaks.

He’s afraid the U.S.  may not be prepared for the next outbreak either.

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For example, he said there’s a new Zika virus outbreak in Brazil that’s not getting much attention. And if it starts spreading - we’re not prepared for it.

Dr. John Lednicky believes there must be a better way to prepare for viruses that can impact lives this way.

Lednicky already had a coronavirus test developed for bats that translated to humans after the recent outbreak.

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“We started finding people who are positive for COVID-19 through those tests,” Lednicky said.

But since his facility wasn’t a clinical lab, he and his team weren’t allowed to assist the public by processing tests quicker.

And often, when something like this breaks, he said the system is slow to get research going.

It often requires applying for grants.

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He believes we need to first of all have funding and a system in place to attack outbreaks immediately. But we also need to be proactive solving potential problems.

A few years ago, his team actually discovered the Zika virus in Haiti, shortly before the big outbreak in Brazil that eventually made it to Florida.

See the full report in the video above.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.