Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

Common virus is likely to cause the next global pandemic, scientists warn

Samantha Parker By Samantha Parker Jun3,2024

Scientists have warned that a common virus is most likely to trigger the next global pandemic, according to a new study.

Influenza, or flu, has been ranked as the top pathogen of concern by the majority of infectious disease experts worldwide due to its potential to spark a pandemic.

The second most concerning illness was ominously named ‘Disease X’ – while other potential triggers included Coronavirus, Ebola, the original SARS virus from the early 2000s and Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever (CCHF).

The study, which will be formally presented at the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases’s (ESCMID) Global Congress in Barcelona later this month, involved a survey of 187 global infectious disease experts from 57 different countries.

Each expert was asked to rank various pathogens based on their perceived pandemic risk, including diseases featured in the World Health Organisation‘s Research and Development Blueprint for Action to Prevent Epidemics.

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In a revealing study, experts have ranked various pathogens based on their potential to cause a pandemic.

Influenza viruses emerged as the top threat, with 57 percent of experts placing it at the forefront and 17 percent ranking it second.

Meanwhile, the mysterious Disease X was considered to have the highest pandemic potential by over a fifth (21 percent) of the experts, with another 14 percent placing it in second place.

Coronavirus, specifically SARS-CoV-2, was identified as the third most concerning, with nearly one in ten (8 percent) experts ranking it as the primary threat and 16 percent considering it the second most dangerous.

The original SARS-CoV virus from the 2002-03 outbreak received less attention, being voted the top concern by only two per cent of respondents and second by eight per cent.

Jointly occupying the fifth spot were the CCHF and Ebola viruses, each receiving 1.6 percent of votes for the top position.

Pathogens like Nipah virus, henipavirus, and Rift Valley fever virus were deemed least likely to cause a pandemic according to the experts’ perception.

Dr Jon Salmanton-Garcia, lead author from the University of Cologne, Germany, summarised the findings: “The study revealed that influenza, Disease X, SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV, and the Ebola virus are the most worrisome pathogens concerning their pandemic potential.

“These pathogens are characterised by their transmissibility through respiratory droplets and a history of previous epidemic or pandemic outbreaks.”

Dr Salmanton-Garcia, speaking on the ranking of influenza, explained that the flu already triggers ‘mini pandemics’ globally each winter. “Each winter we have an influenza season,” he stated.

“Yet, every season the strains involved change, that is the reason why we can get influenza several times in life and vaccines change year to year. In case a new strain becomes more virulent, this control could be lost.”

However, Dr Salmanton-Garcia added that the world is now much more prepared for a global pandemic after Covid.

“In the Covid-19 pandemic, we have learned many things on how to approach a respiratory virus pandemic,” he continued.

“This includes social distancing, hand cleaning, face masks, a renewed focus on vaccination, and trust in healthcare institutions.

In parallel, institutions have also learnt a lot. Preparedness and surveillance are now, vitally, better-funded.”

The study was published in the journal Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease.

Samantha Parker

By Samantha Parker

Samantha is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth behind the headlines. With years of experience in investigative reporting, she has covered a wide range of topics including politics, crime, and entertainment. Her in-depth analysis and commitment to factual accuracy make her a respected voice in the field of journalism.

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2 thoughts on “Common virus is likely to cause the next global pandemic, scientists warn”
  1. Do you think there are any specific measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of this common virus and potentially avoid a global pandemic?

    1. As a public health expert, I believe that implementing strict surveillance measures, promoting vaccination campaigns, and enhancing global cooperation in outbreak response are crucial steps to prevent the spread of this common virus and mitigate the risk of a global pandemic. It is essential to prioritize early detection, rapid response, and information sharing among countries to effectively contain and control the spread of infectious diseases.

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