Beyond Covid – the next pandemic

I’ve been talking about this for years…since I first wrote about pandemics in New Scientist in 1997 and then in more depth for the Royal Society of London in the wake of SARS, in January 2004, in fact. It’s worrying…we are always on the verge of a new pandemic. Until Covid-19, we’d managed to get on top of them largely. But, the next emergent pathogen could be far more virulent and far more deadly than SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

Map of ‘red-alert’ zones. Bigger circles, greater risk. (Credit: Michael Walsh, University of Sydney)

Now, an international team of researchers has shown for the first time where people consistently interact with wildlife and where this overlaps with poor human health outcomes and highly globalised cities. 40% of the world’s most connected cities are close to areas of impactful spillover, say the researchers. The presence of such hotspots will almost inevitably give rise to a major pandemic unless preventative measures are taken urgently.

Details are published in the journal One Health.