Hopes for 2022

Posted 28 December 2021

We asked our 2021 Society medalists and Distinguished International Fellows to send us their hopes for the New Year. Here's what they said:


Dyann Wirth, PhD, FASTMH
2021 Walter Reed Medalist and 1999 ASTMH President
2022 will be challenging but I am confident we will meet those challenges and turn them into opportunities. The threat of pandemics is foremost in our minds and there is an increased recognition that infectious diseases pose a real and immediate danger to peoples and nations. It has also served to remind us of the ongoing toll of infectious diseases such as malaria and other neglected tropical diseases, and the need to rethink strategies. Investments in the detection, prevention and treatment are critical and there are great opportunities for innovation in this space. The healthcare workforce needs greater recognition and their contributions properly compensated. We should demand the best science and best practices for all infectious disease threats, and we should strive to get this on the political agenda for every country.
 
Philip Thuma, MD
2021 Donald Mackay Medalist
As we look forward to 2022, we realize with humility that our hopes for 2021 were not realized when it comes to thinking that the COVID-19 pandemic might be over by the end of the year, after successful development and roll out of effective vaccines. Despite that, we live with optimism that this pandemic will eventually be over and we can move forward with our lives, having learned many lessons about the importance of public and international health. My hope for 2022 is that this pandemic experience will stimulate the next generation to seek careers in public health and advocacy for the use of scientific methods to make wise policy decisions.  And may we as people sharing this planet come together to collaborate on all that we agree on – and agree to disagree on the minor issues!

Abdoulaye Djimde, PharmD, PhD, FAAS
2021 Joseph A. LePrince Medalist
SARS-Cov2 will be smarter, anti-COVID scientists will be smarter in 2022. I hope that COVID-19 will leave us all alone and that we will resume normal life in 2022. Short of that, just like a smart parasite does not kill off too many of its hosts, I expect SARS-Cov-2 will be a smarter pathogen. Indeed, we cannot avoid the virus from mutating as long as it is being transmitted. However, one can expect the new variants to become less lethal overtime. On the other hand the vaccines we currently have appear to prevent hospitalization but not infection. I hope that scientists will be even smarter in 2022 and come up with vaccines and/or drugs that will prevent transmission and/or effectively kill the virus.
 
Rose Leke, PhD
2021 Clara Southmayd Ludlow Medalist
My aspirations for 2022 are that:
We will draw on our hard-earned lessons that health is truly global and interconnected, to improve prevention of the next pandemic and enable us to better manage pandemics globally
Through vaccinations, natural (re-)infections and less severe variants emerging, COVID-19 herd immunity is eventually reached and the virus is eliminated 
The complex issue of developing-country vaccine manufacturing will continue to see much progress and result in equitable access to vaccines. That anti-vaccine movements and vaccine hesitancy will lessen and minimize 
Developing countries will see great improvement in and sustain resilient healthcare systems
Africa will sustain its wild-polio-free status and the world will be much closer to be polio-free
While welcoming the RTS,S malaria vaccine, we look forward to new, more efficacious malaria vaccines so malaria elimination becomes a reality. Similarly, I also hope that efficacious vaccines for HIV and TB emerge
 
Natasha Hochberg, MD, MPH
2021 Bailey K. Ashford Medalist
My greatest hope for the New Year is for global vaccine equity. I also hope that the scientific community improves its communication skills and addresses misconceptions about the vaccine and the virus.  Lastly, I hope for a year of much-needed compassion and kindness.

 
 
Makedonka Mitreva, PhD
Bailey K. Ashford Medalist
My hope for 2022 is that we will act and prepare for the future based on what we learned from the recent past. In the past two years we have been reminded once again that infectious diseases do not respect borders and working together to promote major determinants of health now is more important than ever before. While it took a pandemic for the public to realize how powerful international collaborations can be, we, the ASTMH members, have known and worked collaboratively for many decades now, moving the bad towards good, strengthening the good to become great, and lifting up the neglected to achieve their potential. I hope in 2022 we will have the annual ASTMH Annual Meeting in person, which will provide us with an opportunity to keep building more equitable health across the globe via our personal and professional contributions.
 
Amy Maxmen, PhD
2021 ASTMH Communications Award Winner
My hope for 2022 is that COVID vaccination uptake increases in the U.S., and people in low and middle income countries have the same incredible access to vaccines that we have in the United States.

 
 
Qin Cheng, PhD
2021 ASTMH Distinguished International Fellow
I hope 2022 will be a turning point for the COVID-19 pandemic in that we will see a major reduction on the terrible toll of the pandemic on human lives and its disruptions to healthcare, surveillance and the control of other diseases such as malaria. This can be achieved by more equitable implementation of effective vaccines, improved treatment strategies and enhanced public health measures worldwide. During COVID-19 we have witnessed how innovative biomedical research and development plays a critical role in pandemic control. I hope the innovation will continue to thrive and empower effective prevention and control of other diseases. I wish in 2022 international travel will resume so that we can continue disease surveillance and field research, visit colleagues, friends and families.  While I enjoyed participating in virtual ASTMH Annual Meetings over the past two years, I am looking forward to attending the next Annual Meeting in person!  
 
John Mackenzie, PhD, AO
2021 ASTMH Distinguished International Fellow
My hope is that in 2022 the world will begin to return to more normality, a year in which our lives and livelihoods are no longer overshadowed by COVID. My optimism is based on a combination of factors, including the increased availability of improved and more effective therapeutics, a greater uptake of vaccine internationally, and a possible decrease in virulence of circulating SARS-CoV-2 variants. We don’t know yet if the Omicron variant is less virulent than preceding variants, but I believe that SARS-CoV-2 will gradually evolve to become less virulent and eventually become more like other common cold-causing human coronaviruses. But for this to happen and for a safer world in 2022, vaccine equity is an essential component; developed nations must share vaccine and therapeutics with resource-poor countries. This should be a moral commitment as well as helping to prevent the development of further SARS-CoV-2 variants. My other major hope is that all nations will recognize that our biggest threat is not from a specific disease, but from climate change – a threat to our very existence.
 
Didier Menard, PhD, PharmD
2021 ASTMH Distinguished International Fellow
2022 will soon open its doors. First, I would like to wish to all ASTMH members a Happy New Year, rich in curiosity, dynamism and commitment. Every day shows us the complexity of the world, the difficulty of living together, but also the tremendous outbursts of creativity, innovation and collective strength. The priority remains the access to scientific knowledge by as many people as possible. At a time when everyone can express their opinion on social networks and when disinformation constitutes a major risk for our society, we must participate in this dissemination of knowledge by promoting scientific mediation, innovation and the scientific productions. I hope that students, young scientists and senior researchers will know how to use it to feed their reflections and debates. Let us not forget that behind each new scientific knowledge capable of providing an answer today lies the fruit of long-term teamwork.
 
Paul Newton, MBChB, PhD, MRCP, DTM&H 
2021 ASTMH Distinguished International Fellow
There are very many hopes for 2022 and I am optimistic but they will need a lot of engagement and changes. A few are that the very many people globally living beyond infectious disease surveillance and diagnosis will be included, that there is a splurge in vaccine production and research capacity in every region with associated regulatory enhancement, that long-distance working sea (e.g., across the Atlantic) and rail (e.g., London to Laos!) journeys will be rejuvenated and become more the norm, that equity and kindness improve, that health research grant systems are revised so that applicants do not incur the enormous opportunity costs of applying for grants with ~3% chance of success, that we learn from the latest catalogue of disasters how to do things better in the future, that the UK increases its overseas aid budget, and that all 7.9 billion have a happier and healthier 2022! All are doable. (-:
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