Is this the face of Disease X? The airborne viruses which could cause the next global pandemic threat

Dr Adalja said: “Health security preparedness needs to be adaptable to new threats and not exclusively wedded to historical notions.

“A more active-minded approach to this problem will, in the end, help guard against a GCBR event occurring.”

Epidemiologists and healthcare professionals believe it is a case of when, not if, the world is hit by a global epidemic of a deadly infectious disease, killing millions of people.

The next big disease outbreak could be triggered by a mutated strain of a known virus or by the release of a biological weapon and examples such as the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic, which killed up to 100 million people, show the enormity of the danger.

The challenge for policy makers is to identify what the next occurrence might look like.

But rather than assuming future disasters will look the same as previous ones, the authors went back to the drawing board, reviewing the literature and interviewing 120 experts to identify the features that would identify a micro-organism as a potential threat.

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